HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Corinth, Miss., April 1, 1862.
General A. SIDNEY JOHNSTON,
Commanding Army of the Mississippi, Corinth, Miss.:
GENERAL: In conformity with your order to report to you on the defenses of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers at the time of my taking command at the West, I have to say that those defenses were at that time not included in my command, nor were they until after you assumed the charge of the Western Department. My command up to that time was limited on the north and east by the Tennessee River.
Shortly after you took command of the Western Department Lieutenant Dixon, of the Corps of Engineers, was instructed by you to make an examination of the works at Forts Henry and Donelson and to report upon them.
These instructions were complied with, and he reported that the former fort, which was nearly completed, was built not at the most favorable position, but that it was a strong work, and, instead of abandoning it and building at another place, he advised that it should be completed and other works constructed on the high lands just above the fort on the opposite side of the river.
Measures for the accomplishment of this were adopted as rapidly as the means at our disposal would adopted as rapidly as the means at our disposal would allow. A negro force which was offered by planters on the Tennessee River in North Alabama was employed on the work, and efforts were made to push it to completion as fast as the means at command would allow.
Lieutenant Dixon made also a similar reconnaissance on the Cumberland, and gave it as his opinion that although a better position might have been chosen for the fortifications on that river, yet, under the circumstances then surrounding our command, it would be better to retain and strengthen the position chosen.
He accordingly made surveys for additional outworks, and the service of a considerable slave force was obtained to construct them. This work was continued and kept under the supervision of Lieutenant Dixon. Lieutenant Dixon also advised the placing of obstructions in the Cumberland at a certain point below, where there was shoal water, so as to afford protection tot he operatives engaged on the fortifications against the enemy's gunboats. This was done, and it operated as a check to the navigation so long as the water continued low.
You are aware that efforts were made to obtain heavy ordnance ot arm these forts, but as we had to rely on supplies from the Atlantic sea-coast, they came slowly, and it became necessary to divert a number of pieces intended for Columbus to the service of those forts.
The principal difficulty in the way of a successful defense of the rivers in question was the want of an adequate force-a force of infantry and a force of experienced artillerists. They were applied for by you and also by me, and the appeal was made earnestly to every quarter form whence relief might be hoped for. Why it was not furnished others must say. I believe that the chief reason, so far as the infantry was concerned, was the want of arms. As to experienced artillerists, they were not in the country, or at least to be spared from other points.
When General Tilghman was made brigadier-general he was assigned by you to the command of the defenses on the Tennessee and Cumberland. It was at a time when the operations of the enemy had begun to be active on these rivers, and the difficulty of communicating