About May 24, the enemy made such demonstrations above the Big Black and toward Yazoo City, that I sent Walker's DIVISION to Yazoo City, with orders to fortify it, and, the demonstrations being renewed, placed Loring's DIVISION within supporting distance of Walker's, and in person took post at Canton.
Dispatches arrived from General Pemberton, dated Vicksburg, May 20 and 21. In that of the 20th he stated that the enemy had assaulted his intrenched lines the day before and were repulsed with heavy loss. He estimated their force at not less than 60,000, and asked that musketcaps be sent, they being his main necessity. He concluded:
An army will be necessary to save Vicksburg, and that quickly. Will it be sent?
On the 21st, he wrote:
The men credit and are encouraged by a report that you are near with a large force.
They are fighting in good spirits and their organization is complete.
Caps were sent as fast as they arrived.
On May 29, I sent a dispatch to General Pemberton to the following effect:
I am too weak to save Vicksburg; can do no more than attempt to save you and your garrison. It will be impossible to extricate you unless you co-operate and we make mutually supporting movements. Communicate your plans and suggestions if possible.
The receipt of this was acknowledged in a communication dated Vicksburg, June 3, in which General Pemberton says:
We can get no information from outside as to your position or strength, and very little in regard to the enemy.
In a dispatch dated June 10, from General Gardner (the first received since his investment), he reported having repulsed the enemy in several severe attacks, but that he was getting short of provisions and ammunition. To which I replied June 15, informing him that I had not means of relieving him, adding:
General Taylor will do what he can on the opposite side of the river. Hold the place as long as you can, and, if possible, withdraw in any direction or cut your way out. It is very important to keep Banks and his forces occupied.
In a dispatch dated June 20, I said that General Taylor had intended to attack the enemy opposite Port Hudson on the night of the 15th, and attempt to send cattle across the river. The want of field transportation rendered any movement for the relief of Port Hudson impossible had a march in that direction been advisable; but such a march would have enabled Grant (who had now completed his strong lines around Vicksburg) to have cut my line of communication and destroyed my army, and from the moment that I put my troops in march in that direction, the whole of Middle and Northern Mississippi would have been open to the enemy.
On June 7, I repeated the substance of my dispatch of May 29, to General Pemberton. On June 4, I told the Secretary of War, in answer to his call for my plans, that my only plan was to relieve Vicksburg, and my force was far too small for the purpose. On
June 10, I told him I had not at my disposal half the troops necessary.
On the 12th, I said to him:
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.