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You must now act as seems best to you. The separation of our armies is for the present complete.

The day before receiving this last despatch, General Beauregard's Adjutant, Colonel Jordan, who, after his visit to the War Department at Richmond, had gone directly to Columbus, rejoined him at Jackson, Tennessee. His report concerning General Polk's district was decidedly unfavorable, and confirmed General Beauregard's apprehensions as to the incomplete state of its defences. He emphasized the too great development of the lines, and their defective location, characterizing the place as a certain ‘dead fall’ to its garrison, if attacked. He also reported the troops to be imperfectly organized, and declared his inability to procure a clear statement of the forces and resources present, for want of proper returns.

General Beauregard, who was still too unwell to assume immediate command, called General Polk at once to Jackson, and also his own Chief-Engineer, Captain D. B. Harris, who had preceded him to Columbus. They came on the 19th, and Captain Harris's detailed information as to the position, its works, and the surrounding locality, confirmed Colonel Jordan's report of its alarming weakness. Upon this definite statement of the character and condition of the place, General Beauregard considered that immediate preparations should be made for its evacuation, so as to secure its supplies, armament, and garrison, which included nearly all the forces under General Polk. It was to be apprehended that General Grant, by marching westward from Fort Henry to Union City or Clinton—some sixty or seventy miles—after forming a junction with part of the forces under General Pope, which might have landed in Kentucky, above the fort, could complete its investment within a few days; while batteries placed below it, on both sides of the river, would cut off communication or retreat by water, unless prevented by our gunboat fleet. Batteries, enfilading its parapets, which were without traverses, would dismount its guns, while mortar batteries would fire its wooden store-houses and destroy its supplies, compelling its surrender in a very few days.

Apart from the river batteries, which were strongly constructed

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G. T. Beauregard (5)
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February 18th, 1862 AD (1)
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