In reply to my request to know whether Corinth had been originally selected as a position to be held permanently, I was told that it was untended to be held as long as circumstances would permit; that it was a strategic point of the first importance. In reply to my interrogatory as to what means he had adopted to make it tenable, General Beauregard informed me that the defenses were slight, consisting of some rifle pits and earthworks probably less formidable than those at Manassas, for the reason that it was not a point that could be held in the face of largely-superior forces, owing to the ease which the railroad communications in the rear could be cut by the enemy's cavalry. The creeks and bottoms mentioned as strengthening his front were not passed by the enemy until after the retreat of our army.
In reply to my request for information as to the defects of the Commissary Department, he tells me that na agent of the
Commissary-General promised to furnish an ample supply of fresh bee, but that he afterward announced that he was unable to do so for want of funds, which the department failed to furnish him. Further, that the department had requested that its agents should not be interfered with in the purchase of beef; but that the commissary of Department No. 2 should co-operate with these agents for the supplies necessary for this army. General Beauregard says that the supply of salt beef is bad, and he is informed by this chief commissary will not sixty days. He has sufficient flour, with the arrangements he has perfected for a supply of corn meal. Eh expects, through his agents in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, to obtain a sufficient present supply of fresh beef, say 25,000 head of cattle.
General Beauregard complains that their requisitions made on the department for funds have not been responded to, and that the commissary department of his army has been left without funds or credit or adequate supplies. He has, on application to the Memphis banks, received from them a credit of $500,000, which he has not yet used.
The general thinks the health of the army better at Tupelo than at Corinth. General Beauregard informs me that an attack on the enemy was not feasible.
On May 9 our army advanced to attack the army of General Pope, but only of his divisions was in position, and that gave way so rapidly that it could not be followed up.
On May 23 our army advanced for a general attack, hoping to surprise the enemy; but General Van Dorn's forces, which ought to have been in position by 3 o'clock in the morning or early dawn, were detained until 3 o'clock in the afternoon by the mistakes of his guides. The enemy having become apprised of the movement, no surprise could be effected, and victory was otherwise impossible, and thus we failed to achieve what would otherwise have been one of the most remarkable victories of the war, in his opinion.
I alluded to a rumor I had somewhere heard that his army had on May 9 gotten between the forces of Halleck and Pope, so as to cut the latter off. He treated it as idle, absurd, and ridiculous, as doubtless it was.
In reply to a question as to the possibility of having kept in check that portion of Halleck's army moving toward Memphis by destroying the bridges on the railroad to that city and falling back along that line with a small between Grand Junction and Corinth to be destroyed; that there were no bridges of consequence between Grand Junction and Memphis, and no point between Corinth and Memphis tenable against