around Vicksburg, having been attacked and forced back from Big Black Bridge, and that he had ordered Haynes' Bluff to be abandoned. His letter concluded with the following remark:
I greatly regret that I felt compelled to make the advance beyond Big Black, which has proved so disastrous in its results.
It will be remembered that General Pemberton expected that Edwards Depot would be the battle-field before I reached Jackson (see his dispatch of the 12th, already quoted), and that his army, before he received any orders from me, was 7 or 8 miles east of the Big Black, near Edwards Depot.
On May 19, General Pemberton's reply, dated Vicksburg, May 18, to my communication of the 17th, was brought me near Vernon, where I had gone with the troops under my command for the purpose of effecting a junction with him in the event of his evacuating Vicksburg, as I had ordered, in which he advised me that he had-
assembled a council of war of the general officers of this command, and having laid your instructions before them, asked the free expression of their opinion as to the practicability of carrying them out. The opinion was unanimously expressed that it was impossible to withdraw the army from this position with such morale and material as to be of further service to the Confederacy.
On receiving this information, I replied:
I am trying to gather a force which may attempt to relieve you. Hold out.
The same day I sent orders to Major-General Gardner to evacuate Port Hudson. I then determined, by easy marches, to re-establish my line between Jackson and Canton, as the junction of the two commands had become impossible.
On May 20 and 21, I was joined by the brigades of Generals Gist, Ector, and McNair. The DIVISION of General Loring, cut off from General Pemberton in the battle of Baker's Creek, reached Jackson on the 20th, and General Maxey, with his brigade, on the 23rd .
By June 4, the army had, in addition to these, been re-enforced by the brigade of General [N. G.] Evans, the DIVISION of General Breckinridge, and the DIVISION of cavalry, numbering 2,800, commanded by Brigadier General W. H. Jackson.
Small as was this force (about 24,000 infantry and artillery,* not one THIRD of that of the enemy), it was deficient in artillery, in ammunition for all arms, and field transportation, and could not be moved upon that enemy (already intrenching his large force) with any hope of success.
The draught upon the country had so far reduced the number of horses and mules, that it was not until late in June that draught animals could be procured from distant points for the artillery and trains.
There was no want of commissary supplies in the department, but the limited transportation caused a deficiency for a moving army.
On May 23, I received a dispatch from Major-General Gardner, dated Port Hudson, May 21, informing me that the enemy was about to cross at Bayou Sara; that the whole force from Baton Rouge was in his front, and asking to be re-enforced. On this, my orders for the evacuation of Port Hudson were repeated, and he was informed:
You cannot be re-enforced. Do not allow yourself to be invested. At every risk save the troops, and, if practicable, move in this direction.
This dispatch did not reach General Gardner, Port Hudson being then invested.
*See Johnston to Mason, December 6, p. 249.