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[508] department, on the night of the 4th instant. After several interviews with him, and the fall of Fort Henry, an informal conference was held at my lodging on the 7th instant, at which General Johnston, Major-General Hardee, and myself were present, for the consideration of the military exigencies. On that occasion it was determined that, Fort Henry having fallen, and Fort Donelson not being long tenable, preparations should be made at once for the removal of the army on that line in rear of the Cumberland River at Nashville, while a strong point on that river, some few miles below the city, should be fortified forthwith against the approach, by that way, of gunboats and transports.

The troops then at Clarksville were to be thrown across to the southern bank of the Cumberland, leaving only a sufficient force in the town to protect the manufactories and other property in which the Confederate government was interested.

In the event a further retrograde movement became inevitable, Stevenson was chosen as a suitable point for a stand, and subsequent movements were to be determined by circumstances.

It was likewise determined that the possession of the Tennessee River by the enemy, consequent upon the capitulation of Fort Henry, must break the direct communication between the army at Bowling Green and the one at Columbus, which, henceforward, must act independently of each other, until they can again be brought together.

Meanwhile, the first must defend the State of Tennessee along the line already indicated, the second that part of the State included between the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers.

But as the possession of the Tennessee River by the enemy had also rendered the communications of the army at Columbus liable to be cut off at any time from that river, by an overpowering force of the enemy, rapidly concentrated from various points of the Ohio, it had become further necessary to guard and provide against such a calamity. To which end it was decided that the main force in occupation of Columbus should fall back upon Humboldt, and thence, if need be, to Grand Junction, so as to protect Memphis from either point, and still secure a line of retreat to the latter place or Grenada, Mississippi, or even to Jackson, of that State.

Finally, at Columbus, left with a sufficient garrison for the defence of the works there, assisted by Hollins's gunboats, a desperate defence of the river was to be made. But, at the same time, transports were to be collected and held near by, for the prompt removal of the entire garrison, when the position was no longer tenable, in the opinion of the commanding officer. Meanwhile, Island No.10 and Fort Pillow would be fortified for defence to the last extremity, assisted by the naval gunboats, which, as a last resort, would retire to the vicinity of Memphis, when another resolute stand should be made.

Five days later, in view of existing conditions, I addressed to General Johnston a paper, a copy of which I now transmit, for the information of the War Department.

On reaching here, I received information that confirmed my views, in great part, as set forth in that letter, and satisfied me, that to attempt to hold Columbus


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