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[557] which was threatened by the whole of McClernand's corps, and he could not, therefore, have joined me earlier than the morning of the 15th), and that I had then pushed hurriedly forward on the direct road to Clinton. I ask any candid mind, What would probably-nay, what must certainly — have been the result 1 I can see none other than the entire destruction or capture of my army and the immediate fall of Vicksburg. Such were my firm convictions at the time, and I so expressed myself to my general officers in council, and such they are still.

I have explained in my report why, contrary to my own judgment, and to the subversion of all my plans for the defense of Vicksburg, I determined to advance from my position at Edwards's Depot, and thus abandon the line of the Big Black, which (although I had crossed when I learned that the main body of General Grant's army was approaching the Southern Railroad, to protect my communications with the East, and more easily to avail myself of the assistance of my reenforcements which were daily arriving) I was yet in a position to recross readily, by both the bridges at the railroad and by Bridgeport, and thus defend my vital positions at Snyder's Mills and Chickasaw Bayou, if I should find that the enemy was advancing in too heavy force against Edwards's Depot. And I accordingly informed General Johnston, on the 12th May, that the enemy was apparently moving his heavy force toward Edwards's Depot, adding, “That will be the battle-field if I can carry forward sufficient force, leaving troops enough to secure the safety of this place (Vicksburg).”

I was firmly convinced that the enemy's supplies must be very limited, as he moved with but few wagons, and his dependence upon those to be drawn from his distant base at Grand Gulf or Bayou Pierre very precarious. I had good reason, therefore, to believe that he would be forced either to advance immediately upon Edwards's Depot to give me battle (which I should have accepted or avoided, according to circumstances), or to return at once to his base upon the Mississippi River.


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