WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., October 1, 1863.
Lieutenant General J. C. PEMBERTON, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: At the suggestion of the President, I would call your at tention to several points in your recent report of operations in Mississippi which it would be gratifying to me to have elucidated or explained.
The first dispatch of General J. E. Johnston, from Jackson, instructed you to advance and attack in the rear the corps of the enemy at Clinton, and promised co-operation in such attack on his part. Clinton was on the railroad between General Johnston and Jackson, and yourself at Edwards Depot. I have understood this direction to instruct you to march toward Clinton at once, and by the direct or nearest route, considering the rear to be the side most remote from him (General J.) and nearest you, and not to have contemplated that you should make a detour to come around on the rear of the line by which the enemy had advanced toward Clinton. Was a different view entertained by you of the intent of this order? As the object of the order was to have the corps at Clinton promptly assailed while separate and beyond support, I have supposed it contemplated immediate movement on your part to execute it, and that the distance was not so great but that you might, could you have marched at once, have reached and struck
the corps in form twelve to twenty-four hours. Will you state the distance and what obstacles prevented movement on your part for some twenty-six hours? I have deemed it unfortunate that on receiving this first dispatch from General Johnston, you-knowing that he must necessarily be very imperfectly acquainted with your position and resources, as well as with the movements and forces of the enemy-did not take the responsibility of acting on your better knowledge and maintain your preconceived plan, or, if unwilling to do that, that you did not at once carry out strictly the order received. It appears to me the more to be regretted that, having written to General Johnston that you would move at once, though against your judgment, in execution of his instructions, you should afterward have so far deviated form them as to resolve to direct your movements toward Raymond instead of toward
Clinton. When you came to this resolve, you at once informed General Johnston, but it happened, unfortunately, that after the receipt of your first [communication], General Johnston had been compelled to act by the advance of the enemy on Jackson, and to proceed in evacuating, on the supposition that you were executing his first orders, and that you were more easily to be approached by his moving out to the north rather than to the south of the Vicksburg Railroad. Had he known of your purpose to move toward Raymond, the reasonable inference is he would have directed his movements southward, or more in the direction of your proposed advance. I think it not unlikely misapprehension on this subject prevented his so moving as to have enabled him to have taken part in the battle so soon to be fought by you.
Will you explain more fully the motives for your deviation from the
direct execution of the instructions, and the consequences which, in your judgment, would have resulted from pursuing the instructions literally? Were you acquainted with the movements of the several corps of the enemy when, as it appears, they were separated into two or more distinct columns (separated by 12 or 15 miles), and when you were nearer to one and perhaps to two than they were to each other? Could you not have struck at one separately; and, if so, what reasons induced
21 R R-VOL XXIV, PT. I