War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0282 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI

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evacuation of this city. If pressed by the enemy, and it should be necessary to place the Big Black in our rear in one march, the chances are that a large number of them now in the trenches could not succeed. I believe, however, that most of them, rather than be captured, would exert themselves to the utmost to accomplish it. I respectfully transmit herewith the opinions of my brigade commanders on these points.

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. L. STEVENSON,

Major-General.

DIVISION HEADQUARTERS,

Near Vicksburg, July 2, 1863.

GENERAL: In reply to your confidential note of yesterday, requesting to be informed as to the condition of my troops and their ability to make the marches and undergo the fatigues necessary to accomplish a successful evacuation, as heartrending as the reply may be, I have to state that I concur in the unanimous opinion of the brigade and regimental commanders, that the physical condition and health of our men are not sufficiently good to enable them to accomplish successfully the evacuation. The spirit of the men is still, however, unshaken, and I am satisfied they will cheerfully continue to bear the fatigues and privations of the siege. I inclose herewith for your further information the brigade reports.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JNO. H. FORNEY,

Major-General.

DIVISION HEADQUARTERS, July 2, 1863.

GENERAL: Your note of yesterday desires of me a reply on two points, viz: The condition of my troops, and their ability to make the marches and undergo the fatigue necessary to a successful evacuation of this place. The length of the marches and the amount of fatigue necessary to a successful evacuation not being indicated, I confine myself to giving the following information and opinions: There are about 3,000 men in my DIVISION, including State troops, in a condition to undertake a march of 8 or 10 miles a day in this weather, if there is an opportunity of resting at intervals. Out of these 3,000, only about 2,000 are considered reliable in case we are strongly opposed and much harassed. A secret evacuation I consider almost impossible, on account of the temper of many in my command, who would, of necessity, be left be hind, not to mention their natural timidity when left alone, which would induce them to at once get into communication with the enemy for their own fancied safety. I would really expect the enemy to become aware of the movement before my command had cleared the right of our line. It is proper to mention that the 2,000 alluded to have suffered severely in the loss of field officers during the siege; and while their individual bravery remains the same, they will be more readily thrown into confusion from want of officers to handle them, if forced to halt and go through any formation to oppose an enemy. In other words, while under the impression that the troops will to-day resist an assault as obstinately, or perhaps more so, as when they first manned the trenches, I do not think they would do as well out of them and in the field.

I believe that General Johnston either has or will fight Grant, and my hope has been that he would be successful and in time to relieve us. At present, however, I see no chance of timely relief from him, and him dispatches have never indicated a hope of being able to raise the siege. Under these circumstances, I deem it best to propose terms of capitulation before forced to do so from want of provisions.

The following, although not called for by your note, is respectfully stated on account of a personal conversation had some days since. In regard to evacuating with or without entering into terms of agreement with the enemy, I should much prefer the former. There is to my mind no practical difference between giving up a place openly or secretly.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. S. SMITH,

Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS BOWEN'S DIVISION,

Vicksburg, MISS., July 2, 1863.

GENERAL: In reply to your inquiry of this morning in regard to the condition of my command to force their way through the enemy's lines in case that the necessity should arise to evacuate this position, I have the honor to state that my men are in as good, if not better spirits, than any others in the line, and able to stand as much fatigue, yet I do not consider them capable (physically) of enduring the hardships incident to such an undertaking. Forty-five days' incessant duty day and night, with short rations, the wear of both mind and body incident to our situation, has had a marked effect upon them, and I am satisfied they cannot give battle and march over