War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0272 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI

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fled that Snyder's Mill would be abandoned, and that he was expected to operate on the flank and rear of the enemy, with the view of cutting off his supplies in that direction. Colonel Adams' force was, however, very inadequate to this purpose.

During the night of the 17th, nothing of importance occurred. Most of the artillery was speedily placed in position on the lines, and immediate measures were taken to arm all men who had either unavoidably lost or who had thrown away their arms on the retreat.

General Johnston was notified on the 17th of the result of the battles of Baker's Creek and Big Black, and informed that I had in consequence been compelled to evacuate Snyder's Mill.

About noon of May 18, while engaged in an inspection of the intrenchments with Major Lockett, my chief engineer, and several of my general officers, the enemy was reported to be advancing by the Jackson road. Just at this moment the following communication was received by courier:


Lieutenant-General PEMBERTON:

Your dispatch of to-day by Captain [Thomas] Henderson was received. If Haynes' Bluff is untenable, Vicksburg is of no value and cannot be held. If, therefore, you are invested in Vicksburg, you must ultimately surrender. Under such circumstances, instead of losing both troops and place, we must, if possible, save the troops. If it is not too late, evacuate Vicksburg and its dependencies, and march to the northeast.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. Johnston,


The evacuation of Vicksburg! It meant the loss of the valuable stores and munitions of war collected for its defense; the fall of Port Hudson; the surrender of the Mississippi River, and the severance of the Confederacy. These were mighty interests, which, had I deemed the evacuation practicable in the sense in which I interpreted General Johnston's instructions, might well have made me hesitate to execute them. I believed it to be in my power to hold Vicksburg. I knew and appreciated the earnest desire of the Government and of the people that it should be held. I knew, perhaps better than any other individual, under all the circumstances, its capacity for defense. As long ago as February 17 last, in a letter addressed to His Excellency the President, I had suggested the possibility of the investment of Vicksburg by land and water, and for that reason the necessity of ample supplies of ammunition as well as of subsistence to stand a siege. My application met his favorable consideration, and additional ammunition was ordered. With proper economy of subsistence and ordnance stores, I knew that I could stand General Johnston to do all that could be done to raise a siege. I felt that every effort would be made, and I believed it would be successful. With these convictions on my own mind, I immediately summoned a council of war composed of all my general officers. I laid before them General Johnston's communication, but desired them to confine the expression of their opinions to the question of practicability. Having obts, the following communication was addressed to General Johnston:


Vicksburg, May 18, 1863.

General JOSEPH E. Johnston:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, in reply to mine by the hands of Captain [Thomas] Henderson. In a subsequent letter of