you to wait till nearly all their several forces concentrated and attacked you on your march, in obedience to General Johnston's renewed order? While I have not approved General Johnston's instructions, as under the circumstances I think it would have been better to have left you to the guidance of your superior knowledge of the position and your own judgment, I confess to have been surprised that, seeing he had taken the responsibility of positive directions with a view to prompt attack on a separate detachment of the enemy, you had not seized the occasion while they were severed to attempt the blow. I consider the essential part of his orders to have been immediate advance and attack on a separate column, and that if you could not execute that, you would have been well justified in attempting no other compliance, and falling back on your previous plan. As it was, neither plan was pursued, and invaluable time and the advantage of position were lost in doubtful movements. So, at least, the case has struck my mind.
On another distinct point I should be pleased to have information:
How happened it that General [J.] Gregg with his small force was so far separated from you, and compelled alone at Raymond to encounter the greatly superior forces of the enemy? Had he been placed at such distance as a covering force to Jackson (the capital), or with what view? To recur again to the battle of Baker's Creek: I should be pleased to know if General Loring had been ordered to attack before General Cumming's brigade gave way, and whether in your opinion, had Stevenson's DIVISION been promptly sustained, the troops with him would have fought with so little tenacity and resolution as a portion of them exhibited. Have you had any explanation of the extraordinary failure of General Loring to comply with your reiterated orders to attack, and do you feel assured your orders were received by him? His conduct, unless explained by some misapprehension, is incomprehensible to me.
You will, I trust, general, excuse the frankness with which I have
presented the foregoing subjects of inquiry. They will, doubtless, only enable you more fully to explain the movements made by you and the reasons inducing them, to the satisfaction as well of others interested as of-
Yours, with esteem,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
RICHMOND, November 10, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: To your communication of the 1st ultimo I have the honor to make the following reply, taking the points presented in order as you have placed them:
The first order from General Johnston was, I conceived, to move on
the rear of the corps of the enemy known by him to be at Clinton, and I believed his intent to be by the most direct route; but as he did not in his dispatch indicate by what route, it was, consequently, left entirely with my own judgment and discretion (had I seen fit to move to Clinton at all) to decide the most advantageous route under the circumstances for the advance. I deem that to have made the movement to Clinton by any route (but more especially by the "most direct or nearest route") would my flank and rear have been entirely unprotected, and a large portion of the enemy's force (of whose position General Johnston seemed to