decide between this State and Tennessee
A duplicate of this dispatch of the 8th was deciphered and answered on the 15th:
I cannot advise as to the points from which troops can best be taken, having no means of knowing.
Nor is it for me to judge which it is best to hold, Mississippi or Tennessee--that is for the Government to determine.
Without some great blunder of the enemy, we cannot hold both.
The odds against me are much greater than those you express (two to one). I consider saving Vicksburg hopeless.
replied on the 16th:
Your telegram grieves and alarms me. Vicksburg must not be lost without a desperate struggle.
The interest and honor of the Confederacy forbid it. I rely on you still to avert the loss.
If better resources do not offer, you must attack.
It may be made in concert with the garrison, if practicable, but otherwise, without-by day or night, as you think best.
I wrote in answer to this on the 19th:
I think that you do not appreciate the difficulties in the course you direct, nor the probability and consequences of failure.
Grant's position, naturally very strong, is intrenched, and protected by powerful artillery, and the roads obstructed.
His reenforcements have been at least equal to my whole force.
The Big Black covers him from attack, and would cut off our retreat if defeated.
We cannot combine operations with General Pemberton, from uncertain and slow communication.
The defeat of this little army would at once open Mississippi and Alabama to Grant.
I will do all I can, without hope of doing more than aid to extricate the garrison.