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[539] my communications by the shortest line being open, would have enabled me to move upon his rear. General Johnston's forces and my own might have formed a junction, or have attacked simultaneously in front and rear; but I did not think it would be wise to attempt to execute this plan until the arrival of expected reinforcements at or near Jackson, hence I received General Johnston's instructions, on the morning of the 14th, to move to Clinton with all the force I could quickly collect, with great regret, and I well remember that, in the presence of one or more of my staff-officers, I remarked, in substance, “Such a movement will be suicidal.” Nevertheless, notifying General Johnston of the fact, I took measures for an advance movement at once, not, it is true, directly toward Clinton, but in the only direction which, from my knowledge of the circumstances surrounding me, I thought offered a possibility of success. Had I moved directly to Clinton, the enemy would not have given me battle in front, but would have interposed a force greater than my own between me and Vicksburg.

It is only necessary to refer to the maps accompanying this report to see how feasible was such a movement. I have already given in the body of this report the two letters of instruction from General Johnston, dated respectively 13th and 15th of May, 1863. In obedience to the injunctions contained in the former, which was received on the morning of the 14th, I lost no time in putting my army in motion in the direction already stated, and for the reasons given.

About seven A. M., on the 16th, I received the letter which reiterated the previous instructions. I had, in no measure, changed my views as to the propriety of the movement therein indicated, but I no longer felt at liberty to deviate from General Johnston's positive orders. He had been made aware of my views, and did not sustain them. The order of march was at once reversed, but the army was hardly in motion before it became necessary to form line of battle to meet the greatly superior forces of the enemy.

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