BRIDGEPORT, ALA., VIA CHATTANOOGA, July 3, 1863. (Received at Richmond July 4.)
Unable to obtain a general engagement without sacrificing my communications, I have, after a series of skirmishes, withdrawn the army to this river. It is now coming down the mountains. I heard of no formidable pursuit.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE, July 3, 1863.
GENERAL: My last advices to the department represented the enemy advancing upon us in heavy force. We were immediately ready to received him, and offered him battle, but he declined, and while holding a strong position, which we could not successfully attack, threw a force to our right and rear by which he successfully assailed our communications. No adequate force could be placed at these several points along the line without too much reducing our main body. I accordingly withdrew to Tullahoma, and reached there just in time to prevent an attack upon its feeble garrison.
The enemy established himself again in strong position on the defensive, and moved another heavy column against our bridges over Elk River, now swollen by heavy rains. By making a rapid march and using the railroad successfully, we saved all our supplies, and crossed the Elk just before a heavy column appeared at the upper bridge. We were now back against the mountains, in a country affording us nothing, with a long line of railroad to protect, and half a dozen passes on the right and left by which our rear could be gained. In this position it was perfectly practicable for the enemy to destroy our means of crossing the Tennessee, and thus secure our ultimate destruction without a battle. Having failed to bring him to that issue, so much desired by myself and troops, I reluctantly yielded to the necessity imposed by my position and inferior strength, and put the army in motion for the Tennessee River. Should we succeed in crossing it successfully (and I hear of no formidable pursuit up to this morning), Tennessee will be taken as our line.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding, &c., Jackson, Miss.
HDQRS. ARMY OF TENNESSEE, VIA CHATTANOOGA, July 7, 1863. (Received July 8.)
Since my report from Bridgeport, the whole army has crossed the Tennessee. The pursuit of the enemy was checked and driven back at University Place, on the Cumberland Mountains. Our movement was attended with trifling loss of men and materials.
General S. COOPER.