On April 17, General Pemberton telegraphed the return of Grant and the resumption of the operations against Vicksburg.
On April 29, he telegraphed:
The enemy is at Hard Times in large force, with barges and transports,*indicating a purpose to attack Grand Gulf with a view to Vicksburg.
He also reported:
Heavy firing at Grand Gulf. The Enemy shelling our batteries both above and below.
On May 1, he telegraphed:
A furious battle has been going on since daylight just below Port Gibson.
Enemy can cross all his army from Hard Times to Bruinsburg. I should have large re-enforcements. Enemy's movements threaten Jackson, and, if successful, cut off Vicksburg and Port Hudson.
I at once urged him to concentrate and to attack Grant immediately on his landing, and on the next day I sent the following dispatch to him:
If Grant crosses, unite all your troops to beat him. Success will give back what was abandoned to win it.
I telegraphed to you on the 1st:
General Pemberton calls for large re-enforcements. They cannot be sent from here without giving up Tennessee. Can one or two brigades be sent from the east?
On the 7th, I again asked for re-enforcements for Mississippi. I received no further report of the battle of Port Gibson, and on the 5th asked General Pemberton,:"What is the result and where is Grant's army?" I received no answer and gained no additional information in relation to either subject until I reached the Department of Mississippi, in obedience to my orders of May 9.
There, on May 13, I received a dispatch from General Pemberton, dated Vicksburg, May 12, asking for re-enforcements, as the enemy in large force was moving from the Mississippi south of the Big Black, apparently toward Edwards Depot, "Which will be the battle-field if I can forward sufficient force, leaving troops enough to secure the safety of this place. "
Before my arrival at Jackson, Grant had beaten General Bowen at Port Gibson, made good the landing of his army, occupied Grand Gulf, and was marching upon the Jackson and Vicksburg Railroad.
On reaching Jackson, on the night of May 13, I found there the brigades of Gregg and Walker, reported at 6,000; learned from General Gregg that Maxey's brigade was expected to arrive from Port Hudson the next day; that General Pemberton'; s forces, except the garrison of Port Hudson (5,000) and of Vicksburg, were at Edwards Depot, the general's headquarters at Bovina; that four DIVISIONS of the enemy, under Sherman, occupied Clinton, 10 miles WEST of Jackson, between Edwards Depot and ourselves. I was aware that re-enforcements were on their way from the east, and that the advance of those under General Gist would probably arrive the next day, and, with Maxey's brigade, swell my force to about 11,000.
Upon this information, I sent to General Pemberton on the same night (13th) a dispatch, informing him of my arrival and of the occupation of Clinton by a portion of Grant's army; urging the importance of re-establishing communications, and ordering him to come up, if practicable, on Sherman's rear at once, and adding:
To beat such a detachment would be of immense value; the troops here could cooperate; all the strength you can quickly assemble
should be brought; time is all important.