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[270] and map off the country lying between the two opposing armies. The sketches prepared by staff officers, untrained and inexperienced in such matters, were very imperfect, but some accurate knowledge of the future field of battle had been obtained, by conferring with officers of the troops who had been on picket duty at and about Pittsburg Landing, before the appearance of the enemy at that point. From inhabitants who had been compelled to leave their homes, after the landing of the hostile forces, General Beauregard also gained useful information, relative to the positions occupied by the several Federal commands.

Such was the situation, as night fell on the 2d of April, when General Cheatham, who commanded a division posted at Bethel Station,1 telegraphed to his corps commander, General Polk, that a strong body of the enemy, believed to be General Lew. Wallace's division, was seriously threatening his front. General Polk at once (about 10 P. M.) transmitted the despatch to General Beauregard, who, believing that the Federal forces were divided by the reported movement, immediately sent in the news to General Johnston, by the Adjutant-General of the Army, in person, with this brief but significant endorsement: ‘Now is the moment to advance, and strike the enemy at Pittsburg Landing.’

General (then Colonel) Thomas Jordan, the Adjutant-General above alluded to, reports his mission on that occasion, as follows:

I found General Johnston in the room of some of his personal staff, where I handed him the despatch with your endorsement. He then repaired with me to the neighboring quarters of General Bragg, whom we found in bed. This officer at once declared in favor of your proposition. General Johnston, expressing several objections with much clearness and force, questioned the readiness of the army for so grave an offensive movement. His views shook the opinion of General Bragg. Having discussed the subject almost daily with you during the past ten days, and knowing the reasons which made you regard the immediate offensive our true course in the exigency, I stated them with as much vigor and urgency as I could, dwelling particularly upon the fact that we were now as strong as we could reasonably hope to be at any early period, while our adversary would be gaining strength, by reinforcements, almost daily, until he would be so strong as to be able to take the offensive with irresistible numbers. That our adversary's position at Pittsburg Landing, with his back against a deep, broad river, in a cul-de-sac formed by the two creeks (Owl and Lick), would make his defeat decisively disastrous, while the character of the country made it altogether practicable for us to steal upon and surprise him; and that your proposition was based on the practicability

1 Twenty-four miles north of Corinth.

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