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Doc. 146.-report of General Joseph E. Johnston.

Rebel operations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Meridian, Miss., Nov. 1, 1863.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General:
sir: The following report of my operations in the Department of Mississippi and East-Louisiana is respectfully offered as a substitute for the imperfect one forwarded by me from Jackson on May twenty-seventh, 1863.

While on my way to Mississippi, where I thought my presence had become necessary, I received, in Mobile, on March twelfth, the following telegram from the Secretary of War, dated March ninth:

Order General Bragg to report to the War Department for conference. Assume yourself direct charge of the Army of Middle Tennessee.

In obedience to this order I at once proceeded to Tullahoma. On my arrival I informed the Secretary of War, by a telegram of March nineteenth, that General Bragg could not then be sent to Richmond, as he has ordered, on account of the critical condition of his family.

On the tenth of April, I repeated this to the President, and added: “Being unwell then, I afterward became sick, and am not now able to serve in the field. General Bragg is, therefore, necessary here.” On the twenty-eighth, my unfitness for service in the field was reported to the Secretary of War.

On the ninth of May I received, at Tullahoma, the following despatch of the same date from the Secretary of War:

Proceed at once to Mississippi and take chief command of the forces there, giving to those in the field, as far as practicable, the encouragement and benefit of your personal direction.

It is thus seen that neither my orders nor my health permitted me to visit Mississippi after the twelfth of March, until the time when I took direct charge of that department.

From the time of my arrival at Tullahoma until the fourteenth of April, General Pemberton's reports, all by telegraph, indicated that the efforts of the enemy would be against General Bragg rather than himself, and looked to the abandonment of his attempts on Vicksburgh. In that of April thirteenth he says:

I am satisfied Rosecrans will be reeforced from Grant's army. Shall I order troops to Tullahoma?

On the seventeenth of April General Pemberton telegraphed the return of Grant and the resumption of the operations against Vicksburgh.

On the twenty-ninth of April he telegraphed:

The enemy is at Hard Times, in large force, with barges and transports, indicating a purpose to attack Grand Gulf, with a view to Vicksburgh. He also reported heavy firing at. Grand Gulf. The enemy shelling our batteries both above and below.

On the first of May he telegraphed:

A furious battle has been going on since daylight just below Port Gibson. . . . Enemy can cross all his army from Hard Times to Bruinsburgh. I should have large reinforcements. Enemy's movements threaten Jackson, and if successful cut off Vicksburgh and Port Hudson.

I at once urged him to concentrate and to attack Grant immediately on his landing; and on the next day I sent the following despatch to him:

If Grant crosses, unite all your troops to beat him. Success will give back what was abandoned to win it. [472]

I telegraphed to you on the first:

General Pemberton calls for large reenforcements. They cannot be sent from here without giving up Tennessee. Can one or two brigades be sent from the East?

On the seventh I again asked for reenforcements for the Mississippi.

I received no further report of the battle of Port Gibson, and on the fifth asked General Pemberton: “What is the result, and where is Grant's army?” I received no answer, and gained no additional information in relation to either subject, until I reached the Department of Mississippi, in obedience to my orders of May ninth.

Then, on May thirteenth, I received a despatch from General Pemberton, dated Vicksburgh, May twelfth, asking for reinforcements, as the enemy, in large force, was moving from the Mississippi, south of the Big Black, apparently toward Edwards's Depot, “which will be the battle-field, if I can forward sufficient force, leaving troops enough to secure the safety of this place.”

Before my arrival at Jackson, Grant had beaten General Bowen at Port Gibson, made good the landing of his army, occupied Grand Gulf, and was marching upon the Jackson and Vicksburgh Railroad.

On reaching Jackson, on the night of the thirteenth of May, I found there the brigades of Gregg and Walker, reported at six thousand; learned from General Gregg that Maxey's brigade was expected to arrive from Port Hudson the next day; that General Pemberton's forces, except the garrison of Port Hudson (five thousand) and of Vicksburgh, were at Edwards's Depot — the General's headquarters at Bovina; that four divisions of the enemy, under Sherman, occupied Clinton, ten miles west of Jackson, between Edwards's Depot and ourselves. I was aware that reenforcements were on their way from the East, and that the advance of those under General Gist would probably arrive the next day, and with Maxey's brigade, swell my force to about eleven thousand.

Upon this information I sent to General Pemberton on the same night (thirteenth) a despatch informing him of my arrival, and of the occupation of Clinton by a portion of Grant', urging the importance of reestablishing communications, and 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.”

On Thursday, May fourteenth, the enemy advanced by the Raymond and Clinton roads upon Jackson. The resistance made by the brigades of Gregg and Walker gave sufficient time for the removal of the public stores; and at two P. M. we retreated by the Canton road, from which alone we could form a junction with General Pemberton. After marching six miles the troops encamped.

From this point I sent to General Pemberton the despatch of May fourteenth, of which the following is a copy:

General: The body of troops mentioned in my note of last night compelled Brigadier-General Gregg and his command to evacuate Jackson about noon to-day. The necessity of taking the Canton road, at right angles to that upon which the enemy approached, prevented an obstinate defence. A body of troops, reported this morning to have reached Raymond last night, advanced at the same time from that direction. Prisoners say that it was McPherson's corps (four divisions) which marched from Clinton. I have no certain information of the other: both skirmished very cautiously. Telegrams were despatched when the enemy was near, directing General Gist to assemble the approaching troops at a point forty or fifty miles from Jackson, and General Maxey to return to his wagons, and provide for the security of his brigade — for instance, by joining General Gist. That body of troops will be able, I hope, to prevent the enemy in Jackson from drawing provisions from the East, and this one may be able to keep him from the country toward Panola. Can he supply himself from the Mississippi? Can you not cut him off from it? And, above all, should he be compelled to fall back for want of supplies, beat him. As soon as the reinforcements are all up, they must be united to the rest of the army. I am anxious to see — a force assembled that may be able to inflict a heavy blow upon the enemy.

Would it not be better to place the forces to support Vicksburgh between General Loring and that place, and merely observe the ferries, so that you might unite, if opportunity to fight presented itself?

General Gregg. will move toward Canton tomorrow. If prisoners tell the truth, the forces at Jackson must be half of Grant's army. It would decide the campaign to beat it, which can be done only by concentrating, especially when the remainder of the Eastern troops arrive; they are to be twelve thousand or thirteen thousand.

This despatch was not answered. General Pemberton stated, in his official report, that it was received at six P. M. on the sixteenth, “whilst on the retreat” from the battle-field of Baker's Creek.

On the next day, May seventeenth, (Friday,) the troops under me marched ten and a half miles further, to Calhoun Station. On the morning of that day I received a letter from General Pemberton, dated Edwards's Depot, May fourteenth, (Thursday,) five forty P. M.:

I shall move as early to-morrow morning as practicable a column of seventeen thousand on Dillon's. The object is to cut off the enemy's communications and force him to attack me, as I do not consider my force sufficient to justify an attack on the enemy in position or to attempt to cut my way to Jackson.

This was the first communication received from General Pemberton after my arrival at Jackson, and from it I learned that he had not moved toward [473] Clinton ten hours after the receipt of my order to do so, and that the junction of the forces, which could have been effected by the fifteenth, was deferred, and that, in disobedience of my orders, and in opposition to the views of a majority of the council of war, composed of all his generals present, before whom he placed the subject, he had decided to make a movement by which the union would be impossible. General Pemberton was immediately instructed that there was but one mode by which we could unite, namely, by his moving directly to Clinton. The brigadier-generals representing that their troops required rest, after the fatigue they had undergone in the skirmishes and marches preceding the retreat from Jackson, and having yet no certain intelligence of General Pemberton's route, or General Gist's position, I did not move on Saturday. In the evening. I received a reply to my last despatch, dated four miles south of Edwards's Depot, May sixteenth, stating it had reached him at thirty minutes past six that morning; that “it found the army on the middle road to Raymond. The order of countermarch has been issued. Owing to the destruction of a bridge on Baker's Creek, which runs, for some distance, parallel with the railroad, and south of it, our march will be on the road leading from Edwards's Depot, in the direction of Brownsville. This road runs nearly parallel with the railroad. In going to Clinton we shall leave Bolton's Depot four miles to the right. I am thus particular, so that you may be able to make a junction with this army.” In a postscript, he reported “heavy skirmishing now going on in my front.”

On the afternoon of the same day I received General Pemberton's first reply to the order sent him from Jackson to attack Sherman, dated Bovina, May fourteenth, nine o'clock and ten minutes A. M., as follows:

I move at once with my whole available force from Edwards' Depot. In directing this move I do not think you fully comprehend the condition Vicksburgh will be left in; but I comply at once with your orders.

On May seventeenth, (Sunday,) I marched fifteen miles in the direction indicated in General Pemberton's note, received the previous evening. In the afternoon a letter was brought from him dated Bovina, May seventeenth, a copy of which has been forwarded to the War Department. In this, referring to my despatch of May thirteenth from Jackson, General Pemberton wrote:

I notified you on the morning of the fourteenth of the receipt of your instructions to move and attack the enemy toward Clinton. I deemed the movement very hazardous, preferring to remain in position behind the Big Black and near to Vicksburgh. I called a council of war, composed of all the general officers. A majority of the officers expressed themselves favorable to the movement indicated by you. The others, including Major-Generals Loring and Stevenson, preferred a movement by which this army might endeavor to cut off the enemy's supplies from the Mississippi. My own views were expressed as unfavorable to any movement which would remove me from my base, which was, and is, Vicksburgh. I did not, however, see fit to place my own judgment and opinions so. far in opposition as to prevent the movement altogether; but, believing the only possibility of success to be in the plan proposed, of cutting off the enemy's supplies, I directed all my disposable force-say seventeen thousand five hundred--toward Raymond or Dillon's.

It also contained intelligence of his engagement with the enemy on the sixteenth, near Baker's Creek, three or four miles from Edwards's Depot, and of his having been compelled to withdraw, with heavy loss, to Big Black Bridge. He further expressed the apprehension that he would be compelled to fall back from this point, and represented that, if so, his position at Snyder's Mills would be untenable, and said: “I have about sixty days provisions at Vicksburgh and. Snyder's. I respectfully await your instructions.”

I immediately replied, May seventeenth: “If Haynes's Bluff be untenable, Vicksburgh is of no value and cannot be held. If, therefore, you are invested in Vicksburgh, you must ultimately surrender. Under such circumstances, instead of losing both troops and place, you must, if possible, save the troops. If it is not too late, evacuate Vicksburgh and its dependencies, and march to the north-east.” That night I was informed that General Pemberton had fallen back to Vicksburgh.

On Monday, May eighteenth, General Pemberton informed me, by letter, dated Vicksburgh, May seventeenth, that he had retired within the line of intrenchments around Vicksburgh, having been attacked and forced back from Big Black Bridge, and that he had ordered Haynes's Bluff to be abandoned. His letter concluded with the following remark: “I greatly regret that I felt compelled to make the advance beyond Big Black, which has proved so disastrous in its results.” It will be remembered that General Pemberton expected that Edwards's Depot would be the battle-field before I reached Jackson, (see his despatch of the twelfth, already quoted,) and that his army, before he received any orders from me, was seven or eight miles east of the Big Black, near Edwards's Depot.

On May nineteenth, General Pemberton's reply (dated Vicksburgh, May eighteenth) to my communication of the seventeenth, was brought me, near Vernon, where I had gone with the troops under my command, for the purpose of effecting a junction with him in case he evacuated Vicksburgh, as I had ordered, in which he advised me that he had “assembled a council of war of the general officers of this command, and having laid your instructions before them, asked the free expression of their opinions as to the practicability of carrying them out. The opinion was unanimously expressed 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.” On receiving this information, I replied: “I am trying to gather a force which [474] may attempt to relieve you. Hold out.” The same day I sent orders to Major-General Gardner to evacuate Port Hudson.

I then determined, by easy marches, to reestablish my line between Jackson and Canton, as the junction of the two commands had become impossible.

On the twentieth and twenty-first of May I was joined by the brigades of Generals Gist, Ector, and McNair. The division of General Loring, cut off from General Pemberton in the battle of Baker's Creek, reached Jackson on the twentieth, and General Maxey, with his brigade, on the twenty-third. By the fourth of June the army had, in addition to these, been reenforced by the brigade of General Evans, the division of General Breckinridge, and the division of cavalry, numbering two thousand eight hundred, commanded by Brigadier-General W. H. Jackson. Small as was this force, about twenty-four thousand, infantry and artillery, not one third of that of the enemy, it was deficient in artillery, in ammunition for all arms and field transportation, and could not be moved upon that enemy, already intrenching his large force, with any hope of success.

The draft upon the country had so far reduced the number of horses and mules that it was not until late in June that draught animals could be procured, from distant points, for the artillery and trains.

There was no want of commissary supplies in the department; but the limited transportation caused a deficiency for a moving army.

On the twenty-third of May I received a despatch from Major-General Gardner, dated Port Hudson, May twenty-first, informing me that the enemy was about to cross at Bayou Sara; that the whole force from Baton Rouge was in his front, and asking to be reenforced. On this, my orders for the evacuation of Port Hudson were repeated, and he was informed:

You cannot be reenforced. Do not allow yourself to be invested. At every risk save the troops, and if practicable move in this direction.

This despatch did not reach General Gardner, Port Hudson being then invested.

About the twenty-fourth of May the enemy made such demonstrations above the Big Black and toward Yazoo City, that I sent Walker's division to Yazoo City, with orders to fortify it; and the demonstrations being renewed, placed Loring's division within supporting distance of Walker's, and in person took post at Canton.

Despatches arrived from General Pemberton, dated Vicksburgh, May twentieth and twenty-first. In that of the twentieth he stated that the enemy had assaulted his intrenched lines the day before, and were repulsed with heavy loss. He estimated their force at not less than sixty thousand, and asked that musket-caps be sent, they being his main necessity. He concluded:

An army will be necessary to save Vicksburgh, and that quickly. Will it be sent?

On the twenty-first he wrote:

The men credit, and are encouraged by a report, that you are near with a large force. They are fighting in good spirits, and their organization is complete.

Caps were sent as fast as they arrived. On May twenty-ninth I sent a despatch to General Pemberton, to the following effect:

I am too weak to save Vicksburgh. Can do no more than attempt to save you and your garrison. It will be impossible to extricate you, unless you cooperate, and we make mutually supporting movements. Communicate your plans and suggestions, if possible.

The receipt of this was acknowledged in a communication, dated Vicksburgh, June third, in which General Pemberton says:

We can get no information from outside as to your position or strength, and very little in regard to the enemy.

In a despatch, dated June tenth, from General Gardner, the first received since his investment, he reported having repulsed the enemy in several severe attacks, but that he was getting short of provisions and ammunition. To which I replied, June fifteenth, informing him that I had no means of relieving him, adding:

General Taylor will do what he can on the opposite side of the river. Hold the place as long as you can, and, if possible, withdraw in any direction, or cut your way out. It is very important to keep Banks and his forces occupied.

In a despatch, dated June twentieth, I sent him word that General Taylor had intended to attack the enemy opposite Port Hudson on the night of the fifteenth, and attempt to send cattle across the river.

The want of field transportation rendered any movement for the relief of Port Hudson impossible had a march in that direction been advisable, but such a march would have enabled Grant (who had now completed his strong lines around Vicksburgh) to have cut my line of communication, and destroyed my army; and from the moment that I put my troops in march in that direction the whole of Middle and North Mississippi would have been open to the enemy.

On June seventh I repeated the substance of my despatch of May twenty-ninth to General Pemberton.

On the fourth of June I told the Secretary of War, in answer to his call for my plans, that my only plan was to relieve Vicksburgh, and my force was far too small for the purpose.

On June tenth I told him I had not at my disposal half the troops necessary.

On the twelfth I said to him: “To take from Bragg a force which would make this army fit to oppose Grant, would involve yielding Tennessee. It is for the government to decide between this State and Tennessee.”

On the fourteenth I sent General Pemberton the following:

All that we can attempt to do is to save you and your garrison. To do this exact cooperation is indispensable; by fighting the enemy simultaneously at the same points of his line you may be extricated. Our joint forces cannot raise the [475] siege of Vicksburgh. My communication with the rear can best be preserved by operating north of railroad. Inform me as soon as possible what points will suit you best. Your despatches of the twelfth received. General Taylor, with eight thousand men, will endeavor to open communications with you from Richmond.

To this communication General Pemberton replied, June twenty-first, recommending me to move north of the railroad toward Vicksburgh, to keep the enemy attracted to that side, and stating that he would himself move at the proper time, by the Warrenton road, crossing the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry; that “the other roads are too strongly intrenched, and the enemy in too heavy force, for a reasonable prospect of success,” unless I could compel him to abandon his communications by Snyder's.

On the fifteenth I expressed to the department the opinion that, without some great blunder of the enemy, we could not hold both, (Mississippi and Tennessee,) and that I considered saving Vicksburgh hopeless.

On the eighteenth I said Grant's position, naturally very strong, is intrenched and protected by powerful artillery, and the roads obstructed. His reinforcements have been at least equal to my whole force. The Big Black covers him from attack, and would cut of our retreat if defeated.

On June twenty-second, in reply to a despatch from General Pemberton of the fifteenth, in which he said that, though living on greatly reduced rations, he had sufficient for twenty days, I informed him that General Taylor had been sent by General E. K. Smith to cooperate with him from the west bank of the Mississippi, and that in a day or two I would try to make a diversion in his favor, and if possible open communications, adding:

Though I fear my force is too small to effect the latter. I have only two thirds of the force you told messenger Saunders to state to me as the least with which I ought to make an attempt. Scouts report the enemy fortifying toward us, and the roads blocked.

A day or two after this a despatch was brought me from General Pemberton, dated June twenty-second, suggesting that I should make to Grant “propositions to pass this army out, with all its arms and equipages ;” renewing his hope of my being able, by force of arms, to act with him, and expressing the opinion that he could hold out for fifteen days longer. To this despatch I replied, June twenty-seventh, informing him that General E. K. Smith's troops had fallen back to Delhi, and that I had urged him to assume the direct command, and continued:

The determined spirit you manifest, and his expected cooperation, encourage me to hope that something may yet be done to save Vicksburgh, and to postpone both of the modes suggested of merely extricating the garrison. Negotiations with Grant for the relief of the garrison, should they become necessary, must be made by you. It would be a confession of weakness on my part, which I ought not to make, to propose them. When it becomes necessary to make terms, they may be considered as made under my authority.

On the twenty-ninth of June, field transportation and other supplies having been obtained, the army marched toward the Big Black, and on the evening of July first encamped between Brownsville and the river.

Reconnoissances, which occupied the second and third, convinced me that the attack north of the railroad was impracticable. I determined, therefore, to make the examinations necessary for the attempt south of the railroad-thinking, from what was already known, that the chance for success was much better there, although the consequences of defeat might be more disastrous.

On the night of the third a messenger was sent to General Pemberton with information that an attempt to create a diversion would be made to enable him to cut his way out, and that I hoped to attack the enemy about the seventh.

On the fifth, however, we learned the fall of Vicksburgh, and therefore fell back to Jackson.

The army reached Jackson the evening of the seventh, and on the morning of the ninth the enemy appeared in heavy force in front of the works thrown up for the defence of the place. These, consisting of a line of rifle-pits, prepared at intervals for artillery, extended from a point north of the town, a little east of the Canton road, to a point south of the town, within a short distance of Pearl River, and covered most of the approaches west of the river, but were badly located and constructed, presenting but a slight obstacle to a vigorous assault.

The troops promptly took their positions in the intrenchments on the appearance of the enemy, in expectation of an immediate assault. Major-General Loring occupying the right, Major-General Walker the right of the centre, Major-General French the left of the centre, and Major-General Breckinridge the left. The cavalry, under Brigadier-General Jackson, was ordered to observe and guard the fords of Pearl River above and below the town.

The reports that had at various times been made to me by the commanding officers of the troops encamped near Jackson of the scarcity of water, led me to believe that Sherman, who advanced in heavy order of battle from Clinton, could not besiege, but would be compelled to make an immediate assault. His force was represented to consist of his own and Ord's army corps, and three divisions in addition. The spirit and confidence manifested by the whole army under my command were such that, notwithstanding this vast superiority of numbers, I felt assured, with the advantage given by the intrenchments, weak as they were, an assault by him would result in his discomfiture.

Instead of attacking, the enemy, as soon as they arrived, commenced intrenching and constructing batteries. On the tenth there was [476] spirited skirmishing, with slight cannonading, continuing throughout the day. This was kept up, with varying intensity and but little interruption, until the period of our evacuation. Hills, commanding and encircling the town within easy cannon range, offered favorable sites for batteries. A cross fire of shot and shell reached all parts of the town, showing the position to be entirely untenable against a powerful artillery.

On the eleventh I telegraphed the President:

If the position and works were not bad, want of stores, which could not be collected, would make it impossible to stand a siege. If the enemy will not attack, we must, or at the last moment withdraw. We cannot attack seriously without risking the army.

On the twelfth, besides the usual skirmishing, there was a heavy cannonade from the batteries near the Canton and south of the Clinton roads. The missiles reached all parts of the town. An assault, though not a vigorous one, was also made on General Breckinridge's line. It was quickly repelled, however, principally by the direct fire of Cobb's and Slocum's batteries, and flank attack of the skirmishers of the First, Third, and Fourth Florida, and Forty-seventh Georgia regiments. The enemy's loss was two hundred prisoners, nearly the same number killed, many wounded, and the colors of the Twenty-eighth, Forty-first, and Fifty-third Illinois regiments.

By the thirteenth, the enemy had extended his lines, until both his flanks rested on Pearl River.

I telegraphed the President on the fourteenth, that a large force lately left Vicksburgh to turn us on the north. This will compel us to abandon Jackson. The troops before us have been intrenching and constructing batteries since their arrival.

On the fifteenth I telegraphed the President:

The enemy is evidently making a siege which we cannot resist. It would be madness to attack him. The remainder of the army, under Grant, at Vicksburgh, is, beyond doubt, on its way to this place.

On the sixteenth of July information was received that a large train from Vicksburgh, loaded with ammunition, was near the enemy's camp. This, and the condition of their batteries, made it probable that Sherman would, on the next day, concentrate upon us the fire of near by two hundred guns. It was also reported that the enemy had crossed Pearl River in the rear of their left flank. The evacuation of Jackson that night was, therefore, determined on.

Our withdrawal was effected on the night of the sixteenth. All public property, and the sick and wounded, except a few not in a condition to be moved, had been previously carried to the rear. The right wing retired toward Brandon by the new Brandon road, and the left wing by the old Brandon road. The cavalry remained to destroy the bridges over Pearl River, and observe the enemy. The evacuation was not discovered by the enemy until the next day.

Our loss during the siege was estimated at seventy-one killed, five hundred and four wounded, and about twenty-five missing. The army retired by easy marches to Morton, distant about thirty-five miles from Jackson. Desertions during the siege and on the march were, I regret to say, frequent. Two divisions of the enemy, with cavalry, drove our cavalry through Brandon on the nineteenth, returning to Jackson the next day. Their object seemed to be to destroy the railroad bridges and depots.

Colonel J. L. Logan, commanding a mounted force around Port Hudson, reported three successful engagements with detachments of the enemy.

On the twelfth of July I received information from Colonel Logan of the surrender of Port Hudson on the ninth. Subsequently the report of Major Jackson, Assistant Adjutant-General, was received, informing me of the surrender. That officer stated that provisions were exhausted, and that the position of the enemy rendered it impossible for the garrison to cut its way out. But two thousand five hundred of the garrison were fit for duty at the time of surrender.

The enemy advanced against Yazoo City, both by land and water, on the thirteenth. The attack by the gunboats was handsomely repulsed by our heavy battery, under the command of Commander Isaac N. Brown, of the navy. The De Kalb, the flag-ship of the hostile squadron, an iron-clad, mounting thirteen guns, was sunk by a torpedo. To the force advancing by land no resistance was made by the garrison, commanded by Colonel Greasman, of the Twenty-ninth North-Carolina regiment.

[Here follows a review of some minor points in the orders, and General Johnston then proceeds.]

The time to strike the enemy, with the best hope of saving Vicksburgh, was when he was landing near Bruinsburgh. To do this with any prospect of success, a rapid concentration of all the forces should have been made and an attack. Under this conviction I telegraphed to General Pemberton, on May first, from Tullahoma: “If Grant's army lands on this side of the river, the safety of Mississippi depends on beating him. For that object you should unite your whole force.” And again, on May second: “If Grant crosses, unite the whole force to beat him; success will give back what was abandoned to win it.”

These instructions were neglected, and time was given to Grant to gain a foothold in the State. At Ports Gibson and Raymond detachments of our troops were defeated and driven back by overwhelming numbers of the enemy.

On the thirteenth, when I learned that there were four divisions of the enemy at Clinton, distant twenty miles from the main body of General Pemberton's forces, I gave him orders to attack them, and notified him that we could cooperate. This order General Pemberton disobeyed, and so reported to me in his letter of the seventeenth. It directed him to move twenty miles to the east, to cooperate with me in attacking Sherman. He [477] moved to the south, and.made our cooperation and junction impossible. He claims that this order compelled him to make the advance beyond the Big Black, which proved so “disastrous.” Before I had reached Jackson, and before the order was given, General Pemberton made his first advance beyond (east of) the Big Black, to Edwards's Depot. After the receipt of the order in violation of it, he made his second and last advance from that point to the field of Baker's Creek. He further claims that this order caused the subversion of his “matured plans.” I do not know what those plans were, but am startled to find matured plans given up for a movement in violation of my orders, rejected by the majority of his council of war, and disapproved (as he states) by himself. On the twelfth, he wrote to me that if he could collect force enough, Edwards's Depot would be the battle-field. The battle of Baker's Creek was fought three or four miles from Edwards's Depot. The presence of the enemy was reported to him the night before. There was no apparent obstacle to prevent his resuming his original position, and carrying out his “matured plans.”

It is a new military principle, that when an officer disobeys a positive order from his superior, that superior becomes responsible for any measure his subordinate may choose to substitute for that ordered.

But had the battle of Baker's Creek not been fought, General Pemberton's belief that Vicksburgh was his base, rendered his ruin inevitable. He would still have been besieged, and therefore captured. The larger force he would have carried into the lines would have added to and hastened the catastrophe. His disasters were due, not merely to his entangling himself with the advancing columns of a superior and unobserved enemy, but to his evident determination to be besieged in Vicksburgh, instead of manoeuvring to prevent a siege.

Convinced of the impossibility of collecting a sufficient force to break the investment of Vicksburgh, should it be completed-appreciating the difficulty of extricating the garrison, and convinced that Vicksburgh 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 Gordon 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 Vicksburgh 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 Vicksburgh 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.” Vicksburgh was greatly imperilled when my instructions from Tullahoma to concentrate were neglected. It was lost when my orders of the thirteenth and fifteenth 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 animadversions 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 General 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 Vicksburgh 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 toward 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 Vicksburgh.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. Johnston, General.

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