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[591] which I replied, June fifteenth, informing him that I had not the means of relieving him, adding: “General Taylor will do what he can on the opposite side of the river. Hold the place as long as you can, and, if possible, withdraw in any direction, or cut your way out. It is very important to keep Banks and his forces occupied.” In a dispatch, dated June twentieth, I sent him word that General Taylor had intended to attack the enemy opposite Port Hudson on the night of the fifteenth, and attempt to send cattle across the river.

The want of field transportation rendered any movement for the relief of Port Hudson impossible, had a march in that direction been admissible; but such a march would have enabled Grant (who had now completed his strong lines around Vicksburg) to have cut my line of communication and destroyed my army; and from the moment that I put my troops in march in that direction, the whole of Middle and North Mississippi would have been open to the enemy.

On June seventh, I repeated the substance of my dispatch of May twenty-ninth to General Pemberton.

On the fourth of June, I had told the Secretary of War, in answer to his call for my plans, that my only plan was to relieve Vicksburg, and my force was far too small for the purpose.

On June the tenth, I told him I had not at my disposal half the troops necessary.

On the twelfth, I said to him, “to take from Bragg a force which would make this army fit to oppose Grant would involve yielding Tennessee. It is for the government to decide between this State and Tennessee.”

On the fourteenth, I sent General Pemberton the following: “All that we can attempt to do is to save you and your garrison. To do this, exact co-operation is indispensable. By fighting the enemy simultaneously at the same point of his line you may be extricated. Our joint forces cannot raise the siege of Vicksburg. My communication with the rear can best be preserved by operating north of railroad. Inform me, as soon as possible, what point will suit you best. Your dispatches of the twelfth received. General Taylor, with eight thousand men, will endeavor to open communications with you from Richmond.” To this communication, General Pemberton replied, June twenty-first, recommending me to move north of the railroad towards Vicksburg, to keep the enemy attracted to that side, and stating that he would himself move at the proper time by the Warrenton road, crossing the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry; that “the other roads are too strongly intrenched and the enemy in too heavy force for a, reasonable prospect of success,” unless I could compel him to abandon his communications by Snyder's.

On the fifteenth, I expressed to the department the opinion, that without some great blunder of the enemy, we could not hold both (Mississipi and Tennessee), and that I considered saving Vicksburg hopeless.

On the eighteenth, I said: “Grant's position, naturally very strong, is intrenched and protected by powerful artillery, and the roads obstructed. His reinforcements have been, at least, equal to my whole force. The Big Black covers him from attack, and would cut off our retreat if defeated.”

On June twenty-second, in reply to a dispatch from General Pemberton, of the fifteenth, in which he said, that though living on greatly reduced rations, he had sufficient for twenty days, I informed him that General Taylor had been sent by General E. K. Smith to co-operate with him from the west bank of the Mississippi, and that in a day or two I would try and make a diversion in his favor, and, if possible, open communications; adding, “though I fear my force is too small to effect the latter, I have only two-thirds of the force you told messenger Saunders to state to me as the least with which I ought to make an attempt. Scouts report the enemy fortifying towards us, and the roads blocked.”

A day or two after this a dispatch was brought me from General Pemberton, dated June twenty-second, suggesting that I should make to General Grant “propositions to pass this army out with all its arms and equipages,” renewing. his hope of my being able, by force of arms, to act with him, and expressing the opinion that he could hold out for fifteen days longer. To this dispatch I replied, June twenty-seventh, informing him that General E. K. Smith's troops had fallen back to Delhi, and that I had urged him to assume the direct command; and continued, “the determined spirit you manifest, and his expected co-operation, encourage me to hope that something may yet be done to save Vicksburg, and to postpone both of the modes suggested of merely extricating the garrison. Negotiations with Grant for the relief of the garrison, should they become necessary, must be made by you. It would be a confession of weakness on my part, which I ought not to make, to propose them; when it becomes necessary to make terms, they may be considered as made under my authority.”

On the twenty-ninth of June, field transportation and other supplies having been obtained, the army marched towards the Big Black, and on the evening of July first encamped between Brownsville and the river.

Reconnoissances, which occupied the second and third, convinced me that attack north of the railroad was impracticable. I determined, therefore, to make the examinations necessary for the attempt south of the railroad, thinking, from what was already known, that the chance of success was much better there, although the consequences of defeat might be more disastrous.

On the night of the third, a messenger was sent to General Pemberton with information that an attempt to create a diversion would be made, to enable him to cut his way out, and that I hoped to attack the enemy about the seventh.

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