Grant, attacked him on September 19, and compelled him to fall back toward Baldwyn, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.
On the 25th day of the same month I received a dispatch by courier from General Price, stating that he was at Baldwyn and was then ready to join me with his forces in an attack on Corinth, as had been previously suggested by me.
We met at Ripley on September 29, according to agreement, and marched the next morning toward Pocahontas, which place we reached on October 1.
From all the information I could obtain the following was the situation of the Federal army at that time; Sherman at Memphis with about 6,000 men; Hurlbut (afterward Ord) at Bolivar with about 8,000; Grant's headquarters at Jackson with about 3,000; Rosecrans at Corinth with about 15,000, together with the following outposts, viz: Rienzi, 2,500; Burnsville, Jacinto, and Iuka about 6,000; at important bridges and on garrison duty about 2,000 or 3,000, making in the aggregate about 42,000 men in West Tennessee. Memphis, Jackson, Bolivar, and Corinth were fortified, the works mounting siege guns; the outposts slightly fortified, having field pieces. Memphis, Bolivar, and Corinth are on the arc of a circle, the chord of which from Memphis to Corinth makes and angle with the due east line about 15 south. Bolivar is about equidistant from Memphis and Corinth, somewhat nearer the latter, and is at the intersection of the Hatchie River and the Mississippi Central and Ohio Railroad. Corinth is the strongest but the most salient point.
Surveying the whole field of operations before my calmly and dispassionately, the conclusion forced itself irresistibly upon my mind that the taking of Corinth was a condition precedent to the accomplishment of anything of importance in West Tennessee. To take Memphis would be to destroy an immense amount of property without any adequate military advantage, even admitting that it could be held without heavy guns against the enemy's gun and mortar boats. The line of fortifications around Bolivar is intersected by the Hatchie River, rendering it impossible to take the place by quick assault, and re-enforcement could be thrown in from Jackson by railroad, and situated as it is in the reentrant angle of the three fortified places, an advance upon it would expose both my flanks and rear to an attack from the forces at Memphis and Corinth. It was clear to my mind that if a successful attack could be made upon Corinth from the west and northwest, the forces there driven back on the Tennessee and cut off, Bolivar and Jackson would easily fall, and then, upon the arrival of the exchanged prisoners of war, West Tennessee would soon be in our possession and communication with General Bragg effected though Middle Tennessee. The attack on Corinth was a military necessity,m requiring prompt and vigorous action. It was being strengthened daily under that astute soldier General Rosecrans. Convalescents were returning to fill his ranks, new levies were arriving to increase his brigades, and fortifications were being constructed at new points, and it was very evident that unless a sudden a vigorous blow could be struck there at once no hope could be entertained of driving the enemy from a base of operations so convalley of the Mississippi would be lost to us before winter. To have waited for the arrival, arming, clothing, and organization of the exchanged prisoners would have been to wait for the enemy to strengthen themselves more than we could possibly do.
With these reflections and after mature deliberation I determined to