our situation critical, and whatever is resolved on should be carried promptly into execution.
With best wishes for your success and an honest desire to serve you and our cause, I remain, very truly, your friend.
W. J. HARDEE,
CORINTH, MISS., May 25, 1862
General G. T. BEAUREGARD:
The situation at Corinth requires that we should attack the enemy at once, or await his attack or evacuate the place.
Assuming that we have 50,000 men,and the enemy nearly twice that number, protected by internchments, I am clearly of opinion that no attack should be made. Our forces are inferior, and the battle of Shiloh proves, with only the advantage of position, it was hazardous to contend against his superior strength; and to attack him in his intrenchments now would probably inflict on us and the Confederacy a fatal blow. Neither the number nor instruction on of our troops renders them equal to the task.
I think we can successfully repel any attack on our camp by the enemy, but it is manifest no attack is meditated. It will be approached gradually, and will be shelled and bombarded without equal means to respond. This will compel us to make sorties against his intrenched positions under most adverse circumstances or to evacuate the place. The latter seems to me inevitable. If so, the only remaining question is, whether the place should be evacuated before, or after, or during its defense.
After fire s opened, or the place is actively shelled or bombarded,or during such an attack it will be difficult to evacuate the place in good order. With a large body of men imperfectly disciplined any idle rumor may spread a panic and inextricable confusion may follow, so that the retreat may become a rout. The same objections would apply to any partial or feeble defense of the place and an attempt to evacuate it in the mean time. If the defense be not determined or the battle decisive no useful result would follow, but it would afford an opportunity to our enemies to magnify the facts, give them a pretext to claim a victory, and to discourage our friends at home and abroad, and diminish, if not destroy, all claims of foreign intervention.
Under these circumstances I think the evacuation, if it be determined upon, should be made before the enemy opens fire, and not coupled with a sortie against his intrenchments or partial battle. It should be done promptly, if done at all. Even now the enemy can shell our camp. It should be done in good order, so as not to discourage our friends or give a pretext for the triumph of our enemies.
With the forces at our disposition, with a vast territory behind us, with a patriotic and devoted people to support us, the enemy, as he moved southward, away from rivers and railroads, would find insurmountable obstacles in moving columns so heavy that we cannot strike them,and over a country where his mechanical superiority will not avail him.
If we resolve to evacuate, every hour of delay only serves to augment our difficulties. The enemy every day grows stronger on our flanks, and menaces more and more our communications. If he effects
35 R R-VOL X, PT II