War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0209 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

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MORTON, MISS., July 23[22?], 1863.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT:

Two DIVISIONS of the enemy drove our cavalry through Brandon and returned to Jackson next day. Scouts report railroad bridges destroyed by them. Prisoners say that they will attack Mobile next. A paroled prisoner reports to Colonel Wirt Adams that a garrison of one corps was left in Jackson, the rest going to Vicksburg. Large quantities of artillery ammunition are being sent from Vicksburg. Said in the army that they are to move via Memphis and Mobile and Ohio road. Desertions continue, especially of Mississippians. I shall visit Mobile in a day or two, Lieutenant-General Hardee Being here.

J. E. Johnston.

NEAR MORTON, MISS., July 24, 1863.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT:

Brigadier-General [G. B] Cosby reports that the enemy's rear guard left Jackson yesterday, [moving] toward Vicksburg, and that Colonel Tom [H.] Taylor met General Sherman at Edwards Depot, and was told by him that his troops would not stay a day in Vicksburg, but instantly move up the river. Does this indicate re-enforcing Meade? A deserter said yesterday that these troops expect to go to Richmond.

J. E. Johnston.

*MORTON, MISS., August 8, 1863.

Mr. PRESIDENT: I. Your letter of July 15 was handed to me in Mobile on the 28th by Colonel [Frank] Schaller. The want of papers to which it was necessary to refer has prevented me from replying sooner.

II. I respectfully ask Your Excellency to reconsider the several allegations of your letter, and especially to consider whether my misapprehension of the order sending me to Mississippi (my having regarded my assignment to the immediate command in that department as giving me a new position and limiting my authority, an opinion which had no practical results, which affected in no way the exercise of my military functions, and which had been removed before you noticed it) was a serious military offense. It affected my military ours in no way, because, while commanding on the spot in Mississippi, I could not direct General Bragg's operations in Tennessee, and because I felt that the question of ordering more troops from Bragg-one of great magnitude, involving at least the temporary loss of Tennessee or Mississippi-ought to be decided by the Government and not by me. This opinion was expressed in my dispatch to the Secretary of War of June 12, in these words:

To take from Bragg a force which would make this army fit to oppose Grant, would involve yielding Tennessee. It is for the Government to decide between this State and Tennessee.

The idea was thus repeated on the 15th:

Nor is it for me to judge which it is best to hold-Mississippi or Tennessee; that is for the Government to determine. Without some great blunder by the enemy we cannot hold both.

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*This letter not transmitted by President Davis (see his message to House of Representatives, p. 189), but transmitted by Secretary of War, June 11, 1864 (see p. 237).

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