ring to my proposition to the latter to combine our armies and move into West Tennessee, the general commanding says:
If you hold them (the enemy's forces in West Tennessee) in check we are sure of success here; but should they re-enforce here so as to defy us, then you may redeem West Tennessee, and probably aid us by crossing the the enemy's rear. * * * To move your available force into West Tennessee, co-operating with General Price, who will move soon toward Corinth, or to move to Tupelo by rail and join Price, are suggestions merely. I cannot give you specific instructions, as circumstances and military conditions in your front may vary materially from day to day.
A few days later I received General Bragg's dispatch of August 19, informing me that he had ordered one-third of the exchanged prisoners to this army, and I at once, in anticipation of receiving them, immediately made every preparation for arming and equipping them and supplying them with transportation, &c., and was, while doing this, better content to await General Van Dorn's co-operation, which now seemed certain at no distant day, as he on August 24 replied to my proposition of July 31 and August 4 by saying that he would be ready to join me with 10,000 men in about twenty days. I answered him at once that I would be ready to move in five days, and having on September 2 received another telegraphic dispatch from General Bragg-in which he said, "Buell's whole force is in full retreat upon Nashville, destroying their stores; watch Rosecrans and prevent a junction, or if he escapes you, follow him closely "-I sent one of my aides-de-camp to General Van Dorn with dispatches urging him to hasten his movements, and forthwith ordered my own army forward to this place. General Van Dorn replied the next day that he would be ready to move from Holly Springs by the 12th, and that he would support me if I, finding that Rosecrans was attempting to effect a junction with Buell, should follow and overtake him.
I immediately advanced my headquarters to Guntown, and having ascertained that Rosecrans was at Iuka with about 10,000 men, I on the 11th instant marched in that direction with my whole army. My cavalry, under General Armstrong, arrived before the town on the 13th and my infantry and artillery arrived there by a forced march at sunrise on the 14th. The enemy had, however, evacuated the place during the night, abandoning a large quantity of valuable army stores, all of which fell into our hands.
As Rosecrans had retreated westward with his forces I did not think it was my duty to cross the Tennessee and move upon Nashville, as had been ordered by General Bragg, under the belief, as I presumed, that Rosecrans had eluded me and was marching to the relief of Buell, but that I should continue to hold Rosecrans in check and prevent if possible his junction with Buell. I accordingly dispatched couriers the same day to General Van Dorn, announcing my occupation of Iuka and Rosecrans' retreat westward, and again proposing to unite our armies and move against Corinth. I also sent Brigadier-General Moore to Tupelo to hasten forward the exchanged prisoners that General Bragg had ordered to be sent there for this army.
Early on the morning of September 19 I received dispatches from General Van Dorn, saying that he acceded to my proposition and requesting me to move immediately toward Rienzi. I at once replied that I would move my army as quickly as I could in the direction proposed by him, and issued orders for the instant loading of the trains and for the marching of the army early next morning.
About the same time I received from the enemy a demand to lay down my arms because of certain victories which they pretended to have