condition of my troops, and their ability to make the marches and undergo the fatigue necessary to accomplish a successful evacuation of this city, was duly received, and I have the honor to reply thereto, as follows: My men are very cheerful, but from long confinement, more than forty-five days, in the trenches, on short rations, are necessarily much enfeebled, and a considerable number would be unable to make the marches and undergo the fatigue which would probably be necessary to a successful evacuation of this city. If pressed by the enemy, and it should be necessary to place the Big Black in our rear in one march, the chances are that a large number of them now in the trenches could not succeed. I believe, however, that most of them, rather than be captured, would exert themselves to the utmost to accomplish it. I respectfully transmit herewith the opinions of my brigade commanders on these points. I am, sir, respectfully, Your obedient servant,C. S. Stevenson, Major-General.
division headquarters, near Vicksburg, July 2, 1863.General: In reply to your confidential note of yesterday, requesting to be informed as to the condition of my troops, and their ability to make the marches and undergo the fatigues necessary to accomplish a successful evacuation, as heart-rending as the reply may be, I have to state, that I concur in the unanimous opinion of the brigade and regimental commanders, that the physical condition and health of our men are not sufficiently good to enable them to accomplish successfully the evacuation. The spirit of the men is still, however, unshaken, and I am satisfied they will cheerfully continue to bear the fatigues and privations of the siege. I inclose herewith, for, your further information, the brigade reports. I have the honor to be, Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,Jno. H. Forney, Major-General.
division headquarters, July 2, 1868.General: Your note of yesterday desires from me a reply on two points, viz.: the condition of my troops and their ability to make the marches and undergo the fatigue necessary to a successful evacuation of this place. The length of the marches and amount of fatigue necessary to a successful evacuation, not being indicated, I confine myself to giving the following information and opinion: There are about (3,000) three thousand men in my division, including State troops, in a condition to undertake a march of eight or ten miles a day in this weather, if there is an opportunity of resting at intervals. Out of these three thousand, only about two thousand are considered reliable in case we are strongly opposed and much harassed. A secret evacuation I consider almost impossible, on account of the temper of many in my command, who would of necessity be left behind, not to mention their natural timidity when left alone, which would induce them to at once get into communication with the enemy for their own fancied safety. I would really expect the enemy to become aware of the movement before my command had cleared the right of our line. It is proper to mention that the two thousand alluded to have suffered severely in the loss of field officers during the siege, and while their individual bravery remains the same, they will be more readily thrown into confusion from want of officers to handle them, if forced to halt and go through any formation to oppose an enemy. In other words, while under the impression that the troops will to-day resist an assault as obstinately, or perhaps more so, as when they first manned the trenches, I do not think they would do as well out of them and in the field. I believe that General Johnston either has or will fight Grant, and my hope has been that he will be successful, and in time to relieve us; at present, however, I see no chance of timely relief from him, and his dispatches have never indicated a hope of being able to raise the siege. Under these circumstances, I deem it best to propose terms of capitulation before forced to do so from want of provisions. The following, although not called for by your note, is respectfully stated on account of a personal conversation had some days since. In regard to evacuating with or without entering into terms of agreement with the enemy, I should much prefer the former; there is to my mind, no practical difference between giving up a place openly or secretly. I am, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,M. S. Smith, Major-General.
General Johnston has never held out to us the slightest hope that the siege could be raised — that his demonstration in our favor to relieve this exhausted garrison would, of necessity, be sufficient to raise it, I see no alternative but to rescue the command,