War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0217 Chapter XXXVI] GENERAL REPORTS.

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who says that he left General Pemberton's headquarters yesterday, wrote to me last night that our troops had fallen back to Vicksburg. A gentleman who said that he was just from Bovina was here at 10. 30 last night and made the same statement. I was preparing to join General Pemberton personally when this information came. It is now impracticable and would be useless.

I shall endeavor, after collecting all available troops, to hold as much of the country as possible.

Besides the garrison of Port Hudson, the strength of which I do not know, there are now about 11,000 infantry in the department; 6,000 or 7,000 more may soon be expected; therefore, to make it possible to relieve Vicksburg, very large re-enforcements will be necessary. I hope that the Government will send without delay all that can possibly be spared from other points.

I suppose that General Pemberton's force before the battle, including that in Vicksburg, was near 28,000. He has provisions for sixty days. If, as he says, Haynes' Bluff is untenable, the enemy, using navigation of the Yazoo, can soon reduce him by siege. Whatever efforts the Government may propose to make must, therefore, be carried into immediate effect.

Most respectfully,&c.,

J. E. Johnston,

General.

[Sub-Inclosure.]

HDQRS. DEPT. OF Mississippi AND EASTERN LOUISIANA,

Bovina, MISS., May 17, 1863.

General JOSEPH E. Johnston,

Calhoun, MISS.:

GENERAL: I notified you, on the morning of the 14th, of the receipt of your instructions to move and attack the enemy toward Clinton. I deemed the movement very hazardous, preferring to remain in position behind the Big Black and near to Vicksburg. I called a council of war, composed of all the general officers who were then with my movable army, and placing the subject before them (including your instructions) in every view in which it appeared to me, asked their opinions respectively. A majority of the officers expressed themselves favorable to the movement indicated by you . The others, including Major-Generals Loring and Stevenson, preferred a movement by which this army might endeavor to cut off the enemy's supplies from the Mississippi. My own views were expressed as unfavorable to any movement which would remove me from my base, which was and is Vicksburg. I did not see fit, however, to place my own judgments and opinions so far in opposition as to prevent the movement altogether; but believing the only possibility of success to be in the plan proposed, by cutting off the enemy's supplies, I directed all my disposable force (say 17,500) toward Raymond or Dillon's, encamping the night of the 15th at Mrs. Ellison's on the main Raymond and Edwards Depot road, at a fork from which I could advance either to Raymond or Dillon's.

About 7 a. m. on the 16th, the enemy advanced his skirmishers at several points. Our line of battle was quickly formed and the position a strong one. Heavy demonstrations were made on our right, left, and center. Gradually, however, the enemy developed him self in great force against our left, under General Stevenson, re-enforced after some time by Bowen's DIVISION and subsequently by two brigades of Loring's. The enemy was repeatedly driven back, but constantly throwing in fresh