RICHMOND, VA., December 5, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Pemberton telegraphed yesterday from Grenada. His force, 21,000, at Yalabusha River. Near by the enemy, 60,000, extending from his rear to Wolf River. Daily skirmishing with rear guard, and with troops on Mississippi River, on his right. The word in cipher can be explained by one of General Bragg's signal officers. The President has not the cipher you refer to. If it is a dictionary cipher, please let me know the particular edition of the dictionary you have, that copies of the same may be obtained here, if possible, to work by.
Adjutant and Inspector General.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF MISSISSIPPI, EAST LOUISIANA, &C., Grenada, Miss., December 5, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding, &c., Chattanooga, Tenn.:
GENERAL: Your telegram of the 4th instant reached me at a late hour last night, and a brief message was forwarded in reply, indicating my present position. The large re-enforcements received by the enemy in West Tennessee within the last few weeks, and his concentration of forces to the amount, I believe, of not less than 60,000 at La Grange, Grand Junction, and other points between my position on Tallahatchie and his base, rendered it more than doubtful whether I should be able to hold so long a line with the very small force at my disposal. I was aware also that a considerable force (not much less than my own) had been landed on the east bank of the Mississippi River, at Friar's Point and Delta. About the 27th November, the enemy commenced a simultaneous movement of his armies in my front and from the Mississippi River, threatening my rear. Gunboats and transports loaded with troops were also reported descending the river toward Vicksburg, and a demonstration from below was made at the same time against Port Hudson, on the successful holding of which point, together with Vicksburg's defenses, depends the navigation of the Mississippi River. Port Hudson is an isolated position, not naturally strong by its land approaches, and at any time open to attack from below. It is by this time strongly intrenched, and garrisoned by about 5,500 effectives. Port Hudson is distant 58 miles from the railroad dept at Tangipahoa. These troops are not available on a sudden emergency for any other point, nor can it be readily re-enforced. Vicksburg is strongly intrenched, and about 6,000 of all arms are held in immediate vicinity for its defense.
My army on the Tallahatchie, including artillery and cavalry, numbered about 22,000 effectives, most of the cavalry being in advance and covering both flanks. Under the circumstances narrated above, I determined to withdraw from the Tallahatchie and to establish my line behind the Yalabusha River. The movement was commenced on the morning of the 1st of December, the advance guard or a reconnoitering party of the enemy, consisting of five regiments of infantry, two of cavalry, and two field batteries, having advanced to skirmishing distance from our advanced works. By the gross misconduct of the authorities of the Mississippi Central Railroad, and the positive disobedience by them of my orders, a small amount of public property, say 300 rounds field ammunition, a few tents, &c., were burned before leaving. The