COLUMBUS, KY., February 17, 1862.
I am aware of the order you have received from General Johnston. My information is such that I know there is no danger of attack from any point on the Tennessee River.
General Johnston is reported to have abandoned Nashville and to be retreating to Chattanooga.
I am just in receipt of a dispatch from General Beauregard, who has not yet assumed command here, that you ought not to go to Nashville. I therefore order you to move to this post with all possible dispatch.
A copy of this dispatch will be sent to General Johnston and General Beauregard. Answer.
JACKSON, TENN., February 17, 1862.
Commanding Louisiana Volunteers, Corinth, Miss.:
Please report to General Polk. The general [Beauregard] is unable to assume command.
TUSCUMBIA, ALA., February 17, 1862.
J. P. BENJAMIN:
The Kentucky line of defenses has been lost, with a large part of our army. The line from Memphis to Virginia must now be defended at all hazards. To do this we must have armies at Corinth and Knoxville. To supply these armies, what remains of Johnston's forced, Columbus, the Gulf, the seaboard, and Virginia must be drawn; better lose the seaboard than this line. The Memphis and Charleston Road is the vertebrae of the Confederacy, and there are no troops for its defense. In a week the enemy can threaten it from Eastport, within 8 miles, and Hamburg, within 22 miles, with 50,000 men, unless large forces are immediately sent to its protection. The people will abandon the country to the occupation of the enemy.
With great respect I suggest these views, land urgently ask for immediate action.
L. P. WALKER,
HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
Edgefield, February [17, 1862].
Commanding Chestnut Mound:
General Johnston directs you to move your command to Murfreesborough (instead of Nashville) without delay. Press all the wagons you need. Fort Donelson has fallen, and General Floyd's army is captured after a gallant defense.
W. W. MACKALL.