58 Southern Historical Society Papers.
own, might, if not already done, be submitted by you to the War Dep't.
Certainly the surest way to relieve the State of Mississippi & the Valley of the Mississippi from the presence of the Enemy's Army, is suddenly & boldly to take the offensive in Tennessee & Kentucky; for which purpose, all available forces (from other commands held strictly on the defensive), should be concen- trated under you ; the forces now in Tennessee being thus rein- forced by 25,000 or 30,000 men, at the most favorable strategic ]>oint for the offensive, Rosecrans could be suddenly attacked & would be either totally destroyed, or the remnant of his forces would be speedily driven beyond the Ohio. A force of at least 10,000 men in Tennessee & 20,000 in Kentucky, would doubt- less be then raised and with about 20,000 of the reinforcements received from Virginia and elsewhere, could be left to hold those two States — the rest of the Army, say about 60,000 or 70,000 men, should cross the Cumberland & Tennessee rivers, to Columbus or Fort Pillow, so as to command the Mississippi River, & thus cut ofif Grant's communications with the North. The latter (should he have delayed thus long his retreat North of those two points) would then find himself in a very critical condition ; that is compelled to fight his way thro' a victorious army, equal to his own in strength, on it's own selected bat- tlefield, in position to be reinforced for the occasion from the forces left in Kentucky, and the result could not be doubtful for an instant.
As a matter of course, advantage would be taken of the low stage of water in the Cumberland & Tennessee Rivers, to ob- struct thoroughly their navigation and fortify their banks strongly at the point where they come close together, known as the "Neck." Immediately after the destruction of Grant's Army, sufficient forces could be thrown from the Army in Mississippi into Louisiana in aid of Kirby Smith, and into Mis- souri to the assistance of Price, or from Kentucky into Vir- ginia to reinforce the troops left there, should they be hard pressed ; but that is not to be dreaded, considering the terrible