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[580] of your command are there, and I think it but fair that you should direct the operations at that point, and you have my warmest wishes for your success. By the copy of War Department order which I ordered to be enclosed to you a few days ago, you will perceive that Vicksburg is in my department and Jackson in yours; but I attach only little importance to this matter; all that I desire is success to our arms and to our cause.

With regard to your appeal for small arms, I should be most happy to send them to you if they could be spared from here at this critical moment; but being on the eve of a battle with a powerful enemy, close in my front, it becomes impossible to grant your request, for a defeat here would result in the loss of the whole Mississippi Valley, including your force, and the points you are now holding. With regard to the defence of the railroads you refer to, the best way of accomplishing it is to remove the cars and engines and to destroy a few bridges; they could not then be used by the enemy. As soon, however, as I can return you some arms it shall be done. I can only express again my regret at not having here the available force at present with you, for I care more about my front at this moment than I do for my rear.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Headquarters, Richmond, Va., May 26th, 1862.
General,—Your letter of the 19th instant has just been received. Although no instructions have been given as to the military operations within your department since its command devolved on you, yet your condition and movements have been the subject of anxious consideration. Full reliance was felt in your judgment and skill and in the bravery of your army, to maintain the great interest of the country, and to advance the general policy of the government. It was also hoped that the victory of Shiloh would have enabled you, Upon the arrival of your reinforcements, to reoccupy the country north of you, and to have re-established the former communications enjoyed by the army. This hope is still indulged, and every effort will be made, as has heretofore been done, to strengthen you by all the means within the control of the department.

Should, however, the superior numbers of the enemy force you back, the line of retreat indicated by you is considered the best, and in that event, should it be inevitable, it is hoped you will be able to strike a successful blow at the enemy if he follows, which will enable you to regain the ascendency and drive him back to the Ohio.

The maintenance of your present position, with the advantages you ascribe to it, so long as you can resist the enemy and subsist your army, is, of course, preferable to withdrawing from it, and thus laying open more of the country to his ravages, unless by skilful manoeuvring you can entice him to a more favorable position to attack.

The question of subsisting your army for any length of time, cut off from the supplies north of you, may demand your serious attention, and was the subject of a telegraphic despatch to you this morning.

The supplies accumulated at Atlanta are intended as a reserve for the army

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