divisions of the enemy, constituting an entire army corps, numerically greater than my whole available force in the field; besides the enemy had, at least, an equal force to the south, on my right flank, which would be nearer to Vicksburg than myself in case I should make the movement proposed. I had, moreover, positive information that he was daily increasing his strength. I also learned, on reaching Edwards' Depot, that one division of the enemy (A. J. Smith's) was at, or near, Dillons. This confirmed me in the opinion, previously expressed, that the movement indicated by General Johnston was extremely hazardous. I accordingly called a council of war of all the General officers present, and placing the subject before them (including General Johnston's dispatch) in every view in which it appeared to me, asked their opinions respectively. A majority of the officers present expressed themselves favorable to the movement indicated by General Johnston. The others, including Major-Generals Loring and Stevenson, preferred a movement by which the army might attempt to cut off the enemy's supplies from the Mississippi River. My own views were strongly expressed as unfavorable to any advance which might separate me farther from Vicksburg, which was my base; I did not, however, see fit to put my own judgment and opinions so far in opposition as to prevent a movement altogether, but believing the only possibility of success to be in the plan of cutting the enemy's communications, it was adopted, and the following dispatch was addressed to General Johnston: “Edwards' Depot, May 14, 1863--I shall move as early to-morrow morning as practicable with a column of seventeen (17) thousand men to Dillon's, situated on the main road leading from Raymond to Port Gibson, seven and a half miles below Raymond, and nine and a half miles from Edwards' Depot. The object is to cut the enemy's communications and to force him to attack me, as I do not consider my force sufficient to justify an attack on the enemy in position or to attempt to cut my way to Jackson. At this point your nearest communication would be through Raymond. I wish very much I could join my reinforcements. Whether it will be most practicable for the reinforcements to come by Raymond (leaving it to the right, if the march cannot be made through Raymond), or to move them west along the line of railroad (leaving it to the left and south of the line of march) to Bolton's Depot, or some other point west of it, you must determine; in either movement I should be advised as to the time and road, so that co-operation may be had to enable the reinforcements to come through. I send you a map of the country which will furnish you with a correct view of the roads and localities.” Pursuant to the plan laid down in this dispatch, the army was put in motion on the fifteenth, about one in the afternoon, in accordance with the follow-wing order, viz.:--
A continuous and heavy rain had made Baker's Creek impassable by the ordinary ford on the main Raymond road, where the country bridge had been washed away by previous freshets; in consequence of this the march was delayed for several hours, but the water not falling sufficiently to make the creek fordable, the column was directed by the Clinton road, on which was a good bridge, and after passing the creek upwards of one and a half miles, was filed to the right along a neighborhood road, so as to strike the Raymond road about three and a half miles from Edwards' Depot. The march was continued until the head of the column hadheadquarters Department Mississippi and E, Louisiania, Edwards' Depot, May 14, 1863.This army will move tomorrow morning, fifteenth inst., in the direction of Raymond, on the military road, in the following order: 1st. Colonel Wirt Adams' cavalry will form the advance guard, keeping at least one mile in advance of the head of the column, throwing out one company in front of his column and a small detachment in its advance, besides the flankers upon his column when practicable. 2d. Loring's division will constitute the right and the advance in the line of march. He will throw a regiment of infantry with a section of artillery at least two hundred yards in his front, with a company of infantry at least seventy-five yards in its advance, all with the necessary detachments and flankers. 3d. Bowen's division will constitute the centre, and will follow the leading division. 4th. Stevenson's division will constitute the left, bringing up the rear of the column. 5th The artillery of each brigade will march in the rear of the brigade. 6th. The ambulances of each brigade will follow in the rear of their brigade. 7th. The ordnance wagons of each division will follow in the rear of their division. 8th. The wagon train will follow in the rear of the entire column. 9th. Should Tilghman's brigade arrive after the departure of the column, it will constitute, with a field battery, the rear guard, following immediately in the rear of the wagon train. 10th. A company of Wirt Adams' cavalry will close the order of march. 11th. The wagon train will follow in the order of division, that is to say, the wagon train of Loring's division in the right of the train ; that of Bowen's division in the centre, &c. Quartermasters, Commissaries and Ordnance Officers, will remain with their trains, unless otherwise ordered. Straggling, always disgraceful in an army, is particularly forbidden. Stringent orders will be issued by the division commanders to prevent this evil; the rear guard is especially instructed to permit no one to fall to the rear under any circumstances.