In the evening of the same day I received a dispatch from General Pemberton, dated 8 a. m., 4 miles south of Edwards, May 16, acknowledging receipt of my letter written from the Canton road, stating that he received it at 6. 30 o'clock that morning; that it found the army in the middle road to Raymond; that he had issued the order of countermarch; that owing to destruction of bridge on Baker's Creek his march would be on the road from Edwards Depot in the direction of Brownsville; that in going to Clinton he would leave Bolton Depot to the right. In a postscript he reported heavy skirmishing then going on in his front.
On Sunday, May 17, I marched 15 miles in the direction indicated in General Pemberton's note, and on that evening Captain [Thomas] Henderson brought me a letter from General Pemberton, dated Bovina, May 17, giving me intelligence of his being compelled on the 16th instant, after engaging the enemy, to withdraw with heavy loss to Big Black Bridge. A copy of this letter I forwarded that night to General Cooper.
General Pemberton expressed fears that he would be compelled to fall back from Big Black Bridge, and, if so, he represented that the position at Snyder's Mill would also be untenable.
During the night I received information that General Pemberton had fallen back to Vicksburg. I then determined by easy marches to establish my line between Jackson and Canton, as the junction of the two commands had become impossible. During that night, after having received the above information, I sent a dispatch to General Pemberton that,"if Haynes' Bluff be untenable, Vicksburg is of no value and cannot be held; evacuate the place, if not rendered too late by investment to save the troops. "
On Monday, the 18th instant, near Vernon, I received a letter from
General Pemberton, dated Vicksburg, May 17, informing me that he had fallen back to the line of intrenchments around Vicksburg, having been attacked and forced back from Big Black Bridge. Also that he had ordered the abandonment of Snyder's Mill.
On the 19th instant, I received a letter from General Pemberton, acknowledging the receipt of my communication in reply to his, brought by Captain Henderson, and stating that he assembled a council of war of the general officers of his command, who unanimously expressed the opinion upon my instructions that it was impossible to withdraw the army from Vicksburg with such morale and material as to be of further service to the Confederacy.
On the 19th instant, I sent orders by telegraphic dispatches and by couriers to Major-General Gardner to evacuate Port Hudson.
On the 20th and 21st instant, the brigades of Generals Gist, Ector, and McNair joined my command. The last troops of Brigadier-General Evans' brigade arrived on the day before yesterday. Major-General Loring, with his command, arrived here about the 19th instant, and Brigadier-General Maxey's brigade on the 23rd instant.
The troops above mentioned, with General Breckinridge's DIVISION, of General Bragg's army, will make a force of about 23,000 effective men. Grant's army is estimated at 60,000 or 80,000 men, and his troops are worth double the number of Northeastern troops. We cannot relieve General Pemberton except by defeating Grant, who is believed to be fortifying. We must make the attempt with such a force as the Government can furnish for the object; unless more may be expected, the attempt must be made with the force now here and that coming. If possible, however, additional troops should be sent to make up an