previous next


The operations in Mississippi in 1863--official report of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.

The official report of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, of his operations in Mississippi, although called for by Congress on the 11th of December last, has only made its appearance in print within the past few days. In referring to it at present, it is not for us to attempt to account for the delay in its publication. Many of the facts embraced in this report have already been given to the public in the synopsis of the correspondence between Gen. Johnston and the Government authorities in Richmond.--Passing over these, we come to the dispatches between Gen. Johnston and Lieut. Gen. Pemberton, with reference to the operations around Vicksburg,

On the 9th of May, Gen. Johnston then, at Tullahoma, received a dispatch from the Secretary of War, directing him to proceed at once to Mississippi, and take chief command of the forces there. On the 15th of the same month he received a dispatch from Gen. Pemberton, dated Vicksburg, May 12th, asking for reinforcements, as the enemy, in large force, was moving from the Mississippi, south of the Big Black, apparently in the direction of Edward's Depot, and expressing the that that point would be the battle-field, if he could forward sufficient force, leaving troops enough to secure the safety of Vicksburg.

On the 13th Gen. Johnston, dispatched Gen. Pemberton notifying him of his arrival at Jackson, informing him of the occupation of Clinton by a portion of Grant's army, and urged the importance of re-establishing communications, ordering him to come up, if practicable on Sherman's rear at once, and adding "to beat such a detachment would be of immense value. The troops here could cooperate. All the strength you can quickly assemble should be brought. Time is all important."

Subsequently Gen. Johnston ordered Gen. Pemberton to evacuate Vicksburg and to take the read leading to Clinton. This order was disregarded. In concluding his report, Gen. Johnston, says:

‘ Convinced of the impossibility of collecting a sufficient force to break the investment of Vicksburg, should it be completed — appreciating the difficulty of extricating the garrison, and convinced that Vicksburg and Port Hudson had lost most of their value by the repeated passage of armed vessels and transports, I ordered the evacuation of both places. General Gardner did not receive this order before the investment of Port Hudson, if at all. General Pemberton set aside this order, under the advice of a council of war; and though he had in Vicksburg eight thousand fresh troops, not demoralized by defeat, decided that it "was impossible to withdraw the army from this position, with such morale and material as to be of further service to the Confederacy;" but "to hold Vicksburg as long as possible, with the firm hope that the Government may yet be able to assist me in keeping this obstruction to the enemy's free navigation of the Mississippi river." Vicksburg was greatly imperilled when my instructions from Tullahoma, to concentrate, were neglected. It was less when my orders of the 13th and 15th of May were disobeyed. To this loss were added the labor, privations, and certain capture of a gallant army, when my orders for its evacuation were set aside.

’ In this report I have been compelled to enter into many details, and to make some animated versions upon the conduct of General Pemberton. The one was no pleasant task — the other a most painful duty; both have been forced upon me by the official report of Gen. Pemberton, made to the War Department instead of to me, to whom it was due.

General Pemberton, by direct assertion and by implication, puts upon me the responsibility of the movement which led his army to defeat at Baker's creek and Big Black bridge — defeats which produced the loss of Vicksburg and its army.

This statement has been circulated by the press, in more or less detail, and with more or less marks of an official character, until my silence would be almost an acknowledgment of the justice of the charge.

A proper regard for the good opinion of my Government has compelled me, therefore, to throw aside that delicacy which I would gladly have observed towards a brother officer, suffering much undeserved obloquy, and to show that in his short campaign General Pemberton made not a single movement in obedience to my orders, and regarded none of my instructions; and; finally, did not embrace the only opportunity to save his army, that given by my order to abandon Vicksburg.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Pemberton (9)
Joseph E. Johnston (8)
Sherman (1)
Grant (1)
Gardner (1)
Alfred Baker (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
December, 5 AD (1)
September, 5 AD (1)
1863 AD (1)
November, 12 AD (1)
May 15th (1)
May 13th (1)
15th (1)
13th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: