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[538] Big Black River. Not only was it greatly weakened by the absence of General Loring's division, but also by the large number of stragglers who, having abandoned their commands, were already making their way into Vicksburg. The enemy, by flank movement on my left by Bridgeport, and on my right by Baldwin's or other ferries, might reach Vicksburg almost simultaneously with myself, or perhaps might interpose a heavy force between me and that city.

Under these circumstances, nothing remained but to retire the army within the defenses of Vicksburg, and to endeavor, as speedily as possible, to reorganize the depressed and discomfited troops. Orders were accordingly issued, at ten A. M., and Major-General Stevenson directed to conduct the retreat, which was executed without haste and in good order. I myself proceeded at once to Vicksburg to prepare for its defense.

I think it due to myself, in bringing this portion of my report to a conclusion, to state emphatically that the advance movement of the army from Edwards's Depot, on the afternoon of the 15th of May, was made against my judgment, in opposition to my previously-expressed intentions, and to the subversion of my matured plans. In one contingency alone I had determined to move toward Jackson. The safety of Vicksburg was of paramount importance; under no circumstances could I abandon my communication with it. A sufficient force must also be left to defend the riverfront of the city, the approaches by Chickasaw Bayou, by Snyder's Mills, and Warrenton, against a coup de main. My effective aggregate did not exceed twenty-eight thousand; at least eight thousand would be required for these purposes. It would also be necessary to hold the bridges across the Big Black, on the line of the Southern Railroad. With these deductions, my movable army might reach eighteen thousand five hundred. I give this number as the maximum.

In the event, therefore, of the enemy advancing with his whole force, east of the Mississippi River, against Jackson,

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