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[570] issued at ten A. M., and Major-General Stevenson directed to conduct the retreat, which was executed without haste and in good order. I myself proceeded at once to Vicksburg to prepare for its defence. I think it due to myself, in bringing this portion of my report to a conclusion, to state emphatically that the advance movement of the army from Edwards' Depot, on the afternoon of the fifteenth of May, was made against my judgment, in opposition to my previously expressed intentions, and to the subversion of my matured plans. In one contingency alone I had determined to move towards Jackson; the safety of Vicksburg was of paramount importance — under no circumstances could I abandon my communication with it; a sufficient force must also be left to defend the river front of the city — the approaches by Chickasaw Bayou, by Snyder's Mills, and Warrenton, against a coup de main. My effective aggregate did not exceed twenty-eight thousand; at least eight thousand would be required for these purposes; it would also be necessary to hold the bridges across the Big Black, on the line of the Southern Railroad. With these deductions my movable army might reach eighteen thousand. I give this number as the maximum. In the event, therefore, of the enemy advancing with his whole force east of the Mississippi River against Jackson, my communications by the shortest line being open, would have enabled me to move upon his rear. General Johnston's forces and my own might have formed a junction, or have attacked simultaneously in front and rear; but I did not think it would be wise to attempt to execute this plan until the arrival of expected reinforcements at or near Jackson; hence I received General Johnson's instructions on the morning of the fourteenth to move to Clinton with all the force I could quickly collect, with great regret, and I well remember that, in the presence of one or more of my staff officers, I remarked in substance, “such a movement will be suicidal.” Nevertheless, notifying General Johnston of the fact, I took measures for an advance movement at once — not, it is true, directly towards Clinton, but in the only direction which, from my knowledge of the circumstances surrounding me, I thought offered a possibility of success. Had I moved directly to Clinton the enemy would not have given me battle in front, but would have interposed a force greater than my own between me and Vicksburg. It is only necessary to refer to the maps accompanying this report to see how feasible was such a movement. I have already given, in the body of this report, the two letters of instructions from General Johnston, dated respectively the thirteenth and fifteenth of May, 1863. In obedience to the injunctions contained in the former, which was received on the morning of the fourteenth, I lost no time in putting my army in motion in the direction already stated, and for the reasons given. About seven A. M., on the sixteenth, I received the latter, which reiterated the previous instructions. I had in no measure changed my views as to the propriety of the movement therein indicated, but I no longer felt at liberty to deviate from General Johnston's positive orders; he had been made aware of my views and did not sustain them. The order of march was at once reversed, but the army was hardly in motion before it became necessary to form line of battle to meet the greatly superior forces of the enemy. About six P. M., on the sixteenth, whilst on the retreat, the following communication was handed to me:

camp seven miles from Jachson, May 14, 1868.
General: The body of troops mentioned in my note of last night compelled Brigadier-General Gregg and his command to evacuate Jackson about noon to-day, the necessity of taking the Canton road at right angles to that upon which the enemy approaches prevented an obstinate defence.

A body of troops reported this morning to have reached Raymond last night, advanced at the same time from that direction. Prisoners say it was McPherson's corps (four divisions) which marched from Clinton; I have no certain information of the other; both skirmished very cautiously. Telegrams were dispatched when the enemy was near, directing General Gist to assemble the approaching troops at a point forty or fifty miles from Jackson, and General Maxcey to return to. his wagons and provide for the security of his brigade, for instance, by joining General Gist. That body of troops will be able, I hope, to. prevent the enemy in Jackson, from drawing provisions from the east, and this one may be able to keep him from the country towards Panola. Can he supply himself from the Mississippi? Can you not cut him off from it? And above all, should he be compelled to fall back for want of supplies, beat him? As soon as the reinforcements are all up they must be united to the rest of the army. I am anxious to see a force assemble that may be able to inflict a heavy blow upon the enemy.

Would it not be better to place the forces to support Vicksburg between General Loring and that place, and merely observe the ferries, so that you might unite if opportunity to fight presented itself?

General Gregg will move towards Canton to-morrow. If prisoners tell the truth, the force at Jaokson must be half of Grant's army. It would decide the campaign to beat it; which can only be done by concentrating, especially when the remainder of the Eastern troops arrive; they are to be twelve thousand to thirteen thousand.

Most respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


It will be observed that General Johnston's letter of the fifteenth, which caused me to reverse my column with the view of marching to Clinton, was received before the retreat commenced, and about eleven hours earlier than the

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