my forces here as rapidly as possible, my information leading me to believe the enemy had not landed in the force previously reported, and that if he had, by no possibility, in the present state of the roads, could he advance with artillery and baggage upon Corinth or Bethel. There is no question of a large force on the Tennessee, watching an opportunity to strike.
The disorganized and demoralized condition of our forces from the right and left gives me great concern. There is some discipline left in those from the Gulf, but none whatever in the others; and the pressure upon us leaves little time to give it and restore confidence. We are much distressed and disappointed, and shall be seriously damaged by the result at New Madrid.
The whole country seems paralyzed, and the difficulties of operation become infinitely greater thereby. Nothing is brought to us for sale, and it is most difficult to procure supplies.
The unrestrained habits of pillage and plunder have done much to produce this state of affairs and to reconcile the people of the country to the approach of the enemy, who certainly do them less harm than our own troops.
Our whole railroad system is utterly deranged and confused. Wood and water stations are abandoned; employes there and elsewhere, for want of pay, refuse to work; engineers and conductors are either worn down, or, being Northern men, abandon their positions, or manage to retard and obstruct our operations. Our troops, too, monopolize or plunder the eating and sleeping houses on the road, so that these people are really unable to live. These are distressing facts it is useless to conceal, and all owing to a want of system and discipline. I dare not hope to overcome them, but I will struggle as long as a chance remains.
I do not find on any of my maps the second point the general indicates as of strategic importance-Chamberlain. May it not have changed name or lost its place on the maps in these railroad days?
Unless something is done speedily for the defense of Fort Pillow I fear we shall lose the Mississippi-of more importance to us than all the country together, and its fall involves that of Van Dorn.
In the present condition of this army, without transportation, supplies, discipline, or organization, no move toward the enemy can be made. We can only try and keep him in check whilst we labor to correct these radical defects.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HDQRS. WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
Decatur, March 18, 1862.
Military commanders are ordered to destroy, if the same cannot be safely removed, all cotton liable to fall into the hands of the enemy. You will execute this order to the extent you may be able, not unreasonably delaying your march to this place.
By command of General Johnston:
H. P. BREWSTER,