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[545] Vicksburg. I knew I appreciated the earnest desire of the Government and the people that it should be held. I knew, perhaps better than any other individual, under all the circumstances, its capacity for defense. As long ago as the 17th of February last, in a letter addressed to his Excellency the President, I had suggested the possibility of the investment of Vicksburg by land and water, and for that reason the necessity of ample supplies of ammunition, as well as of subsistence, to stand a siege. My application met his favorable consideration, and additional ammunition was ordered.

With proper economy of subsistence and ordnance stores, I knew that I could stand a siege. I had a firm reliance in the desire of the President and of General Johnston to do all that could be done to raise a siege. I felt that every effort would be made, and I believed it would be successful. With these convictions on my own mind, I immediately summoned a council of war, composed of all my general officers. I laid before them General Johnston's communication, but desired them to confine the expression of their opinions to the question of practicability. Having obtained their views, the following communication was addressed to General Johnston:

Headquarters, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, Vicksburg, May 18, 1863.
General Joseph E. Johnston. General:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, in reply to mine, by the hands of Captain Henderson. In a subsequent letter, of same date as this latter, I informed you that the men had failed to hold the trenches at Big Black Bridge, and that, as a consequence, Snyder's Mill was directed to be abandoned. On the receipt of your communication, I immediately assembled a council of war of the general officers of this command, and, having laid your instructions before them, asked the free expression of their opinion as to the practicability of carrying them out. The opinion was unanimously expressed that it was impossible to withdraw the army from this position

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