No. 38.-report of Col. William P. Johnston, aide-de-camp and special Inspector, in reference to operations in Department no. 2.
Richmond, Va., July 15, 1862.Sir: In obedience to orders of June 141 I went to Mobile, Ala., where I found General Beauregard. I had the honor to transmit to you from Mobile General Beauregard's replies to your interrogatories and his inclosure of a letter published by him in the Mobile newspapers, together with my memoranda 2 of a conversation with him, as certified to by him. I then proceeded to Tupelo, Miss., to carry out your further orders, a copy of which is annexed, marked A, and reported to General Bragg, the commanding general. Full information and cordial assistance were rendered me by General Bragg and by all other persons with whom my duty brought me in contact. I submit to Your Excellency the following exhibits, furnished me by the assistant adjutant-general. Colonel Jordan: Exhibit B 3 shows the organization of the Army April 6 and 7. The names of the commanding general and of the general second in command are omitted by the assistant adjutant-general, doubtless through inadvertence. Exhibit C shows the organization of the Army June 30, General Braxton Bragg commanding. Exhibit D4 shows the field return of the Confederate forces that marched from Corinth to the Tennessee River April 3 in Table 1. The aggregate force was 59,774 and the effective total 38,773. Table 2 shows the field return after the battle of Shiloh: Aggregate, 64,500; effective total, 32,212. Table 3 shows the killed, wounded, and missing at Shiloh: Total loss, 10,699. Exhibit E shows in Table 1 the field return prior to the evacuation of Corinth: Aggregate, 112,092; effective total, 52,706. Table 2 shows field return on arrival at Tupelo: Aggregate, 94,784; effective total, 45,365; the reduction being caused in part by the detachment of General Breckinridge's Reserve Corps. Table 3 shows the field return July 1: Aggregate,5 96,549; effective total 45,393, exclusive of the cavalry and subsequent to detachment of Mc(own's division. Exhibit F is the order of General Bragg, assuming command of Department No. 2, July 2, subdividing it into districts and reorganizing the Army of the Mississippi. The tables do not afford the means in themselves of verifying the results. The present organization of the army is anomalous and not in accordance with the law, and will require Executive and perhaps Congressional action to remedy its evils. The conscript act (so called), perpetuating the organization of twelve-months' men and prescribing a new election of officers, has worked most disastrously in this army. The twelve-months' volunteers had made their business arrangements with  reference to their term of service. Some months prolongation of this term migh have been patiently submitted to as an exigency of the war. A right to reorganize at will might have satisfied all of those whom an imperious necessity did not call to their homes; but to be drafted for the war into companies, which experience had proved distasteful to them, engendered a spirit of bitter discontent, which in many instances was fanned by designing men. While the spirit of insubordination was rife the election of new officers took place, and a large number of valuable and experienced officers were replaced by men grossly incompetent and unable to pass an examination on their duties before the most indulgent boards. Their legal successors were equally unfit, and some regiments seemed tending toward disorganization and anarchy. Temporary appointments were made by the commanding general which in some instances have been ratified by the soldiers, but in others are still contested by rival claimants. The more intelligent opinion of the army seems to be that the purging power of the examining boards and the arbitrary action of the commanding general had improved the organization of the army. It would be well if the organization could be conformed to the law or the law to the organization. The organization has been improved by the arrangement of regiments in brigades by States. The Thirteenth Arkansas Regiment having been exchanged with General Cleburne's brigade for the Twenty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, the corps recently commanded by General Polk now consists entirely of Tennessee troops. Room for improvement still exists. The discipline of the army seems excellent. The ordinary forms of respect to officers seem cheerfully paid. The respect for private property is very creditable. In the vicinity of the camps composing the Army of the Mississippi the fences are unharmed and the fields unwasted. In the Army of the West, also, respect is shown to the rights of private property. The older regiments show great skill and promptness in drill and the progress of the new levies is satisfactory. The daily exercise occupies five hours, which is ample. The carriage of the men is soldierly and guard duty is apparently well performed. The great improvement which I learn has been made since the retreat from Corinth in these details, as well as in police and other duties, is due in some measure to the better and more rigid system of inspection that has been inaugurated. Further improvement in this direction might be expected if the law authorized the appointment of brigade inspectors and if more thorough instruction in their duties was given this branch of the staff. I am informed that the need of an educated staff is sorely felt. The duties of regimental adjutants are badly done, as their returns show. At present the staff is generally appointed on the recommendation of the officer to whom it is assigned. The considerations which lead to the recommendation tend frequently to prevent a strict exaction of the performance of duty by the staff. This has grown to be a great evil. It is therefore recommended that, excepting the personal staff of officers, a thorough change be made in the assignment to duty of staff officers, and that disbursing officers be required to settle their accounts more frequently and without warning. The interests of the service would be advanced. The medical department is in a state of great confusion and disorganization. Few of the acting surgeons have been regularly appointed. They have been assigned to duty by medical directors, by generals, and even by colonels, or employed by contract. The position of these gentiemen  is undefined, and the respect and consideration necessary to the performance of their duties is not shown to them. The returns are not regularly or properly made, and the requisite blanks and stationery are not properly supplied. The medical stores are said to be sufficient. I did not examine the hospitals established in the rear of the army. The complaint is general that they are conducted with little attention to order or system or to those details which render such places endurable. The superintendence of a large hospital is a business, and eminence in consultation is not the sole qualification for it. The relaxation of discipline and want of hospital accommodation which permitted the dispersion of the sick on plantations has saved many valuable lives. The broad hospitality and unwearying kindness of the people of Mississippi were extended to our sick soldiers with a liberality so bountiful that the thanks of our whole people are due to them. No eulogy could do them justice. In view of the almost utter hopelessness of adequate hospital arrangements, notwithstanding the disadvantages of scattering sick soldiers and releasing them from the immediate supervision of military authority, some system should be devised for the distribution of the sick on plantations, where they could enjoy comforts and careful nursing and yet receive medical attention. The army having heretofore relied greatly on railroads for transportation of supplies, the requisite wagon trains are not in possession of the quartermaster's department. Efforts are being made to secure them, and in a short time there will be adequate transportation of this kind. The mules are generally large and in order. The transportation is of fair quality and in good condition. That belonging to the army corps of Major-General Polk is especially commendable; in the Army of the West it seems to have suffered most. The supply of corn in the prairie country south of Tupelo will be ample for forage, but experience has shown that the animals suffer greatly in winter without long forage, and it is therefore recommended that timely efforts be made to obtain a supply, even if it be only of the coarse swamp grass of the South. Great abuses have been perpetrated by persons in the employment of the quartermaster's department in “pressing” the property of private citizens. The seizure by government of private property is a right to be used in extreme cases only, is always odious, and cannot be safely exercised by subordinates. Some stern example will be necessary to check the oppression of minor officials. Just complaint exists of the quality of the rations and the irregularity of their issue. Great suffering occurred from this cause at Corinth and on the retreat. Since then there has been improvement. It is stated that a portion of the salt beef issued was put up in poplar boxes instead of tight casks, and was consequently spoiled and unwholesome. Investigation should be instituted as to the packers of this beef. Energy will be required to supply the army hereafter with fresh beef. Four thousand head of cattle were reported to General Bragg as having crossed the Mississippi at the mouth of Red River. More were waiting to cross at the same point. The supply of flour from this year's crop will be small. The Indian corn crop will be unprecedented, owing to the vast area of cotton land planted in this grain. The soldiers prefer corn meal--to the use and preparation of which they are accustomed — to wheat flour. I saw them exchanging measure for measure. Enough flour cannot be procured to subsist the army. It would be well to substitute corn meal in  whole or in part for the ration of flour, and to serve out this grain also in the form of hominy. I understood from General Beauregard that a steam-mill was intended to be put in operation to grind meal at or near Okolona. As yet nothing seems to have been done. The establishment of this and other mills requires prompt attention. The chief difficulty in the use of corn or meal is the danger of heating in depot. This might be obviated by the establishment of kilns for drying the corn. The coarseness of the meal as issued is another objection. This might be remedied by issuing sieves, or, better still, by bolting at the mill. The bran is valuable as forage. The best points for depots are at Montgomery, Ala., and at some point near Aberdeen, Miss., on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Much waste occurs in the quartermaster's and commissary departments from the improvidence, negligence, and dishonesty of those in charge of the public stores on the railroads and at the depots. Greater precautions should be used in the selection of the guards for these stores and a more rigid accountability exacted of those in charge, and a system of mercantile shipments and receipts adopted and enforced with the railroads. I respectfully submit exhibit marked G, containing extracts from the reports of Col. M. L. Clark, chief of artillery and ordnance, made May 25 and June 29. The army is at present encamped on both sides of the Tupelo Swamp, on a series of sandy ridges, covered with a growth of oak, black-jack, and hickory. The position is healthy, pleasant, and capable of defense. The most common shelter is a canvas fly, 10 men to a fly. Bush huts are sometimes used and in rare instances tents. The flies are the best. They give greater regularity in the arrangement of camps than bivouacs, and consequently tend to cleanliness and better discipline. They are better ventilated and more portable than tents. In the event of a forward movement even these will be left behind, and in that climate and season without inconvenience. The men mess in small squads and cook badly; yet they have improved somewhat by the lessons of experience. Most of the brigades have brigade bake-ovens, generally faced with brick. The bread supplied by many of these is excellent, while from others, for want of competent bakers, it is bad and little used by the men. In some regiments small company ovens are used. Where the nature of the soil permits their construction, they present some advantages over brigade ovens. They can be made in a few hours, are ready for use in a day or two, teach the men to rely upon their own resources, and do not compel a change in the mode of cookery when the army is in motion. Wells had been dug in sufficient number, and the supply of water, at from 18 to 20 feet below the surface, is cool, clear, ample, and of good quality. The camps are cleanly swept. The sinks are properly arranged and attended to. The kitchens are frequently furnished with a small pit, conveniently located, for the refuse. In a word, the police of the camps is admirable, and indicative of a high state of discipline. The prospects of the army seem most encouraging; the moral tone of the men is good and their spirits are improving. The skeleton organization of the regiments is filling up by the return of convalescents. The hope of an advance has added to the energy and cheerfulness of the soldiers, and the certain evidences of improvement everywhere manifested give assurance that the Confederacy will soon possess there a disciplined and effective army.  General Beauregard, in his conversation with me, referred me for fuller and more detailed information of the events and circumstances attending the retreat from Corinth to his subordinates. The information derived from them and their concurrent opinion fully sustain his view as to the necessity of the evacuation of Corinth at the time it was performed. Another day's delay might have proved fatal to the army. The letter of General Hardee, approved by General Beauregard (marked H6), expresses the well-settled conviction of the most intelligent officers of the army. Bad food, neglect of police duty, inaction, and labor, and especially the water insufficient, and charged with magnesia and rotten limestone, had produced obstinate types of diarrhea and typhoid fever. No sound men were left. The attempt to bore artesian wells had failed. With an aggregate 1.12,092 the effective total had wasted way to 52,706 men. The sick and absent numbered 49,590. including officers. No sudden epidemic had smitten the camp; the sickness was the effect of causes evident from the day of the occupation of the position, and increased with an accelerated ratio. The value of Corinth as a temporary base from which to attack the enemy was vast, but as it was untenable for permanent occupation on account of its unhealthfulness, it seems unfortunate that the army should have been retained there until a wreck only remained, to be crowded out by the steady pressure of the advancing, but cautious foe. There was a time when the experiment of Shiloh might have been repeated with success. Our army had suffered at Shiloh, but they had won back their former prestige. The demoralization of troops flushed with victory could not have been so great as that of the retreating columns which were gathered at Corinth and precipitated on the Federals with such splendid results on Sunday, April 6. When General Van Dorn's army arrived his effective total was estimated at 17,000 men, which, added to the 32,212 men then reported, made an army of nearly 50,000 effective Southern soldiers. If this army-one-third larger than that which fought at Shiloh-had been led against the disintegrated and demoralized battalions of the enemy before he recovered from the shock of Shiloh or received his re-enforcements of reserves and took his subsequent intrenched position at Farmington, his columns might again have been compelled to huddle under cover of their gunboats. When this opportunity had passed no other occurred. The enemy refused the offer of battle, preferring his own plan of campaign, by which he slowly, but surely, forced us from our chosen position. It appears evident, therefore, that Corinth could only be held by beating the enemy, and that, so soon as he was allowed to take position at Farmington in such manner that we could not compel him to fight, Corinth was no longer tenable. Hence not only does the retreat of General Beauregard appear to have been at the time a necessity, but also that it might have been made with propriety a month earlier. General Van Dorn's failure to attack on the 9th of May was attributed by General Beauregard to the wrong direction in which he was led by his guides. General Hardee, who was with General Van Dorn, informs me that the troops were brought to the point designated in the plan of battle, but that the approaches to the enemy's position were not such as were contemplated by General Beauregard. Instead of an open country, through which we could advance in line of battle on the enemy's flank, the choice was left to advance by the flank on a  single ridge road, with a swamp in our rear, and the enemy between us and our intrenchments, or by a single road through a swampy country, heavily timbered. Success was very improbable; a reverse would have been fatal. The plan of battle was a very good plan of battle, but the topography of the country in which it was to be fought would not permit its execution. It is advisable that more accurate topographical surveys be made of contested ground of which we have the possession for any time. It was difficult to obtain definite information of our losses on the retreat. Exhibit I shows a list of the ordnance and ordnance stores destroyed by the Federals at Booneville, Miss., June 1, including 6 loaded cars, with 2,200 stands of small-arms and ammunition and accouterments. The details of the loss by the destruction of 7 locomotives and a number of loaded cars, by reason of the premature burning of a bridge by Colonel Cleburne, were not furnished me. It was promised that the return of loss of stores will be forwarded at an early day. The chief of ordnance stated that many small-arms were burned in the tents. He discovered their abandonment after firing the tents by the rapid discharges that occurred. Having learned the fact, a good many were saved. In the vast number of stragglers who deserted the line of retreat, many, weakened by disease and discouraged, abandoned their fire-arms, which, it is feared, are irretrievably lost. General Bragg intended to appoint agents to collect as many of them as possible. It was melancholy to see so many soldiers returning without their guns, and, owing to the irregularities of the adjutants' and medical records and returns, impossible to distinguish between the unfortunate and the offending. The loss of small-arms from this cause is large. No great number of soldiers abandoned their standards with the intention of permanently deserting the army, and very few to go over to the enemy. I submit exhibit, marked K,7 containing General Beauregard's instructions for the guidance of General Villepigue in evacuating Fort Pillow. According to the best information had by General Bragg when I left Tupelo, July 4, Pope's command of 30,000 men remained at Corinth and in its vicinity. Buell had crossed the Tennessee River with 25,000 men. General Sherman had 12,000 men (two divisions) at Grand Junction, supported by reserves of 10,000 more at Jackson, Bethel, and Moscow. General Fitch had gone down the Mississippi with a brigade from Memphis, and Wallace remained there with some force. General Bragg had not determined his plan of action. He proposed to avail himself of the railroad to advance immediately 22 miles to Baldwin. He deliberated between attacking at Corinth and leaving that army behind to cross the Tennessee and attack Buell. The danger of the latter plan was, being assailed while crossing and the small chance of being able to obtain the means of crossing. The want of water seemed the chief impediment in advancing near the line of the railroad. He seemed to prefer the chance of attacking the enemy on the flank by a movement through Burnsville on Corinth. I do not know that he is considering the propriety of joining General E. Kirby Smith and operating from Chattanooga ae a base. Each of these plans is surrounded with difficulties which will present themselves to Your E cellency.  When General Bragg determines his plan of action he will advise you fully. I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wm. Preston Johnston, Colonel and Aide-de-Camp. To His Excellency Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
[exhibit A.]Colonel: you are hereby directed to proceed to the headquarters of the army commanded by General Beauregard for the purpose of inspection and report. You will report to General Beauregard in person; and hand to him this, your letter of authority as well as of special instructions. You will ask of the general, to be communicated to me, the following interrogatories, and having received his reply, will have such conference with him as will enable you thoroughly to inform me as to the several points submitted: 1. I desire to know what were the circumstances and purposes of the retreat from the Charleston and Memphis Railroad to the position now occupied. 2. What is the plan of future operations, and whether an advance of the army is contemplated, and what prospect there is of the recovery of the territory which has been yielded? 3. Why was it not deemed advisable to occupy the hills north and east of Corinth, and could not a stronger line than that around Corinth have been selected? 4. What was the cause of the sickness at Camp Corinth I Would it have been avoided by occupying the higher ground in front? Has it been corrected by retiring to the present position? 5. Was it at no time practicable to cut the enemy's line of communication, so as to compel him to abandon the Tennessee River or to permit us to reoccupy Nashville? 6. What means were employed after the fall of Island No.10 to prevent the descent of the Mississippi River by the enemy's gunboats? What dispositions were made to defend Memphis and what was the cause of failure to preserve that most important of our lines of communication? 7. What loss of troops, stores, or arms occurred at the time of the retreat from Corinth? Respectfully, your obedient servant,
General Beauregard, to inspect the troops, to make due inquiry into their organization, their supplies of quartermasters, commissary, and ordnance stores, camp equ-page, messing, general administration, including the regularity of all issues and the condition of the troops, especially as to their comfort and the measures taken to preserve their health; on all of which points you will prepare to report for my information. Respectfully,