On the evening of the 12th, I moved my headquarters to Bovina, to be nearer the scene of active operations.
The command arrived at Edwards Depot on the 13th, and was placed in position, covering all approaches from the south and east, in the following order, viz: Bowen on the right, Loring in the center, and Stevenson on the left. This position was occupied from the night of the 13th until the morning of the 15th.
On the 13th, the following dispatch was sent to General Johnston:
General Forney reports from Vicksburg this morning four transports loaded with troops arrived at young's Point this morning. Five regiments and a battery passed down by Brown & Johnston's. Wagon trains continue to pass back and forth. My re-enforcements will be very small and arrive very slowly. If possible, Port Hudson should also be re-enforced. I have been forced to draw largely from there. I have no major-general to command brigades arriving in Jackson. I am in position with eight brigades near Edwards Depot.
On the morning of the 14th, while on my way to Edwards Depot from Bovina, I received the following dispatch, dated May 13, from General Johnston, then at Jackson:
I have lately arrived, and learn that Major-General Sherman is between us, with four DIVISIONS, at Clinton. It is important to re-establish communications, that you may be re-enforced. If practicable, come up in his rear at once. To beat such a detachment would be of immense value. The troops here could co-operate. All the strength you can quickly assemble should be brought. Time is all-important.
I immediately replied as follows:
BOVINA, May 14, 1863.
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication. I move at once with whole available force (about 16,000) from Edwards Depot, leaving Vaughn's brigade (about 1,500) at Big Black Bridge. Tilghman's brigade (1,500), now at Baldwin's Ferry, I have ordered to bring up the rear of my column; he will be, however, from 15 to 20 miles behind it. Baldwin's Ferry will be left necessarily unprotected. To hold Vicksburg are Smith's and Forney's DIVISIONS, extending from Snyder's Mill to Warrenton, numbering 7,500 effective men. The men have been marching several days, are much fatigued, and I fear will straggle very much. In directing this move, I do not think you fully comprehend the position that Vicksburg will be left in, but I comply at once with your order.
The "detachment" General Johnston speaks of in his communication consisted of four DIVISIONS of the enemy, constituting an entire army corps, numerically greater than my whole available force in the field; besides, the enemy had at least an equal force to the south, on my right flank, which would be nearer to Vicksburg than myself in case I should make the movement proposed. I had, moreover, positive information that he was daily increasing his strength. I also learned on reaching Edwards Depot that one DIVISION of the enemy (A. J. Smith's) was at or near Dillon's. This confirmed me in the opinion, previously expressed, that the movement indicated by General Johnston was extremely hazardous. I accordingly called a council of war of all the general officers present, and placing the subject before them (including General Johnston's dispatch) in every view in which it appeared to me, asked their opinions respectively. A majority of the officers present expressed themselves favorable to the movement indicated by General Johnston. The others, including Major-Generals Loring and Stevenson, preferred a movement by which the army might attempt to cut off the enemy's supplies from the Mississippi River. My own views were strongly expressed as unfavorable to any advance which would separate me farther from Vicksburg, which was my base. I did not, however, see fit to put my own judgment and opinions so far in opposition as to prevent a movement altogether, but believing the only possibility of success to be in the plan of cutting the enemy's communications, it