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[477] moved to the south, and.made our cooperation and junction impossible. He claims that this order compelled him to make the advance beyond the Big Black, which proved so “disastrous.” Before I had reached Jackson, and before the order was given, General Pemberton made his first advance beyond (east of) the Big Black, to Edwards's Depot. After the receipt of the order in violation of it, he made his second and last advance from that point to the field of Baker's Creek. He further claims that this order caused the subversion of his “matured plans.” I do not know what those plans were, but am startled to find matured plans given up for a movement in violation of my orders, rejected by the majority of his council of war, and disapproved (as he states) by himself. On the twelfth, he wrote to me that if he could collect force enough, Edwards's Depot would be the battle-field. The battle of Baker's Creek was fought three or four miles from Edwards's Depot. The presence of the enemy was reported to him the night before. There was no apparent obstacle to prevent his resuming his original position, and carrying out his “matured plans.”

It is a new military principle, that when an officer disobeys a positive order from his superior, that superior becomes responsible for any measure his subordinate may choose to substitute for that ordered.

But had the battle of Baker's Creek not been fought, General Pemberton's belief that Vicksburgh was his base, rendered his ruin inevitable. He would still have been besieged, and therefore captured. The larger force he would have carried into the lines would have added to and hastened the catastrophe. His disasters were due, not merely to his entangling himself with the advancing columns of a superior and unobserved enemy, but to his evident determination to be besieged in Vicksburgh, instead of manoeuvring to prevent a siege.

Convinced of the impossibility of collecting a sufficient force to break the investment of Vicksburgh, should it be completed-appreciating the difficulty of extricating the garrison, and convinced that Vicksburgh and Port Hudson had lost most of their value by — the repeated passage of armed vessels and transports, I ordered the evacuation of both places. General Gordon did not receive this order before the investment of Port Hudson, if at all. General Pemberton set aside this order, under the advice of a council of war; and though he had in Vicksburgh eight thousand fresh troops, not demoralized by defeat, decided that it “was impossible to withdraw the army from this position with such morale and material as to be of further service to the Confederacy;” but “to hold Vicksburgh as long as possible, with the firm hope that the government may yet be able to assist me in keeping this obstruction to the enemy's free navigation of the Mississippi River.” Vicksburgh was greatly imperilled when my instructions from Tullahoma to concentrate were neglected. It was lost when my orders of the thirteenth and fifteenth of May were disobeyed. To this loss were added the labor, privations, and certain capture of a gallant army, when my orders for its evacuation were set aside.

In this report I have been compelled to enter into many details, and to make some animadversions upon the conduct of General Pemberton. The one was no pleasant task — the other a most painful duty; both have been forced upon me by the official report of General Pemberton, made to the War Department instead of to me, to whom it was due.

General Pemberton, by direct assertion and by implication, puts upon me the responsibility of the movement which led his army to defeat at Baker's Creek and Big Black Bridge-defeats which produced the loss of Vicksburgh and its army.

This statement has been circulated by the press, in more or less detail, and with more or less marks of an official character, until my silence would be almost an acknowledgment of the justice of the charge.

A proper regard for the good opinion of my government has compelled me, therefore, to throw aside that delicacy which I would gladly have observed toward a brother officer, suffering much undeserved obloquy, and to show that in his short campaign General Pemberton made not a single movement in obedience to my orders, and regarded none of my instructions; and, finally, did not embrace the only opportunity to save his army, that given by my order to abandon Vicksburgh.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. Johnston, General.

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