[FEBRUARY 18, 1862.-For Benjamin to Bragg, in reference to operations in Kentucky, &c., see Series I, Vol. VI, pp. 827, 828.]
RICHMOND, VA., February 18, 1862.
General A. SIDNEY JOHNSTON, Nashville:
Send much information of your present condition and intended movements as will enable us to give you all the aid in our power. Send further details of the affair at Fort Donelson.
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
NASHVILLE, February 18, 1862.
(Via Chattanooga, 19th.)
General Johnston left to-day for Murfreesborough. The army in retreat for that place. I will send your dispatch to him by special courier. Moving our stores from this place.
W. J. HARDEE,
JACKSON, TENN., February 18, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
Columbus, with present defensive resources, must meet the fate of Fort Donelson, with the loss of the entire army, as well ways of retreat by rail and river can be cut off by the enemy's superior force from Tennessee River; a hazard contrary to the art of war. Therefore should now decide whether to hold Columbus to the last extremity, with its garrison (say 3,500 men), withdrawing other forces for subsequent use, or the evacuation of the place and new defensive positions taken. My halt is too feeble to authorize me to assume command, but I shall advise with General Polk.
G. T. B.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, LOUISIANA VOLUNTEERS,
Corinth, Miss., February 18, 1862.
Major-General POLK, Columbus, Ky.:
Your dispatch of 17th received a few moments since. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Louisiana Volunteers will be halted at the Grand Junction, ready to proceed to Columbus, Ky. The Sixteenth and Nineteenth Louisiana Volunteers will be in readiness to proceed from this point.
The latest intelligence from Nashville is annexed for your information.
If General Johnston does not cover the Tennessee River the enemy will get into possession of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, with open communication to Mobile, Memphis, and New Orleans.