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[396]

We evacuated Corinth successfully on 30th ultimo. A complete surprise to the enemy. Rear guards arrived here, unmolested, last night. We brought away all our heavy guns, tents, etc., 49 – 2– 36 – a – 133 – 1 – 126 – 309 – 1 – 35 – 87.1.22 – 223.1.29.50.1.10 – 154 1.8 – 207.2.14 – 171.2.5 – getting – 307 – 1.22 – a.46.2.6.1


These telegrams, together with General Beauregard's letter of May 19th, and General Lee's authorized answer to the same,2 approving the line of retreat suggested, should have sufficed the authorities at Richmond, and caused Mr. Davis to refrain from all further questioning, until General Beauregard could command leisure from the important duties then engrossing his mind.

To show that there is no mistake in ascribing to the government an unfriendly feeling towards General Beauregard, about this matter, a list of interrogatories intrusted by Mr. Davis to Colonel W. P. Johnston, his aide-de-camp, is given, with General Beauregard's answers appended to the several questions. It was dated Richmond, June 14th, and was presented, in the President's name, to General Beauregard, after his departure from Tupelo. We may add that no such inquiries were ever addressed to Generals A. S. Johnston, Lee, Bragg, Hood, Pemberton, and other Confederate generals, even after they had met with serious disasters.

Question No. 1.—I desire to know what were the circumstances and purposes of the retreat from the Charleston and Memphis Railroad to the position now occupied?

Answer No. 1.—My detailed report of the evacuation of Corinth was sent by special messenger to the War Department on the 13th instant (about one week since). The retreat was not of choice, but of necessity. The position had been held as long as prudence and the necessity of the case required. We had received our last available reinforcements. Our force was reduced by sickness and other causes to about forty-five thousand effective men of all arms, exclusive of the cavalry scattered over a large extent of country to watch the movements of the enemy and protect our railroad communications, while his force was known to be at least twice as strong as ours, better disciplined, and more amply supplied in every respect.

But before adopting so important a measure, it was submitted to a meeting of general officers, composed of Generals Bragg, Polk, Van Dorn, Hardee, Price, and Breckinridge, who unanimously approved of the movement.

In retiring towards Tupelo, it was hoped the enemy would have followed


1 The key to this ciphered telegram is not in our possession.

2 The two letters referred to will be found in the Appendix.

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