and General Joseph E. Johnston
(who had arrived in Jackson
on the 13th and assumed command), and breaking the line of Confederate coummunications.
Prior to his departure from Tullahoma
for the scene of war, General Johnston
had sent an order to General Pemberton
in these words: “If Grant
's army crosses [the Mississippi
], unite all your forces to beat him. Success will give you back what you abandoned to win it.”
One dispatch had been received from General Pemberton
, bearing date the 12th, and beginning: “The enemy is apparently moving in heavy force toward Edwards' Depot
, on Southern Railroad.”
The “movable army” of Pemberton
, consisting of the divisions of Bowen
, which had come up from Grand Gulf
, and Stevenson
, who was detached from the garrison of Vicksburg
, leaving the two divisions of Forney
and M. L. Smith in loco
, was now at Edwards' Depot
, eighteen miles east of Vicksburg
; and headquarters were at Bovina
, a station some four miles west.
On the 13th, General Johnston
sent a dispatch to the War Department in these words: “I arrived this evening, finding the enemy in force between this place and General Pemberton
. I am too late
These were ominous words.
Through Captain Yerger
he dispatched that order to General Pemberton
which has been the bone of contention in all the subsequent discussions on the responsibility of failure.
It directed the latter to come up, if practicable, on the rear of McPherson
“All the strength you can quickly assemble should be brought.
Time is all important.”
This was put into Pemberton
's hands at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 14th.
He answered at once, signifying his purpose to obey, though he did not think his force justified attacking.
But immediately he summoned a council of war, to which the question was submitted for discussion, and a majority of the major generals sent sustained the execution of the order; others said “nay.”
concluded that he would obey the order in this wise: he would set off for Clinton
, which was twelve miles east, by moving on Dillon
's, which was eight miles south.
By this route he might break the communications of the enemy, and force them to attack.
If his luck was good, he might proceed to Clinton
, or else take advantage of any improved posture of affairs that the movement might bring about.
On the morning of the 15th, the three divisions set out on their march, being compelled to make a tedious detour because of the destruction by flood of a bridge over Baker
's creek, which runs a little east of Edwards' Depot
, in a southwesterly