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[149] that officer to cross the Mississippi with his forces, and unite them with those of Lieutenant-General Pemberton. He then read me a note from the President, directing him to countermand his instructions to Lieutenant-General Holmes. A day or two after this, General Randolph retired from the War Department, to the great injury of the Confederacy.

On the 24th, I received orders of that date, assigning me to the command of the departments of General Bragg, Lieutenant-General E. Kirby Smith, and Lieutenant-General Pemberton.

I replied, on the same day:

I had the honor, this afternoon, to receive special orders, No. 225, of this date.

If I have been correctly informed, the forces which it places under my command are greatly inferior in number to those of the enemy opposed to them, while in the Trans-Mississippi Department our army is very much larger than that of the United States. Our two armies on this side of the Mississippi have the disadvantage of being separated by the Tennessee River, and a Federal army (that of Major-General Grant) larger, probably, than either of them.

Under such circumstances, it seems to me that our best course would be to fall upon Major-General Grant with the forces of Lieutenant-Generals Holmes and Pemberton, united for the purpose; those of General Bragg cooperating, if practicable.

The defeat of General Grant would enable us to hold the Mississippi, and permit Lieutenant-General Holmes to move into Missouri.

As our troops are now distributed, Vicksburg is in danger.

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