War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0323 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

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be entirely ignorant) could have interposed itself between my army and its base of operations (Vicksburg), and have taken that stronghold almost without a struggle, so small was its garrison after I had drawn all my available force for the field. The object, no doubt, of the order was that the detachment of the enemy at Clinton should be promptly assailed "while separate and beyond support". But was it beyond supporting distance of the other columns? Of the positions of the enemy I was not definitely informed; but only knew that the whole of Grant's army (three corps) had taken the general direction (northeast) toward the railroad. At what point on this they would strike, or the positions of the two corps, not mentioned nor seemingly regarded by General Johnston, I was not informed, except inasmuch as I had learned form prisoners that Smith's DIVISION was at Dillon's and the rest of the corps to which he was attached were near him, could I make the movement on the one corps at Clinton irrespective and regardless of the major force of the enemy? jeopardizing my lines of communication and retreat, and giving up Vicksburg an easy capture to the enemy, the retention of which in our possession I knew to be the great aim and object of the Government in the campaign; and for this end all my dispositions of troops had been made and plans arranged-plans now subverted entirely by the order under consideration; for it had not been my intention to make any forward movement from Edwards Depot, but to have there awaited an attack from the enemy (which must have taken place in forty-eight hours, or he would have been compelled to have sought supplies at his base on the Mississippi River), in a chosen position, with m; y lines secured, and, if overwhelmed by number, with a way of retreat open across the Big Black which line of defense I would have then held as an obstruction to the enemy's investing Vicksburg. And this disarrangement of my plan caused "the delay for some twenty-six hours. " Not having contemplated an advance, all the arrangements had to be made for the movement, all my available troops had to be collected, and great difficulty was caused by the heavy rain which fell in the twenty-four hours succeeding the receipt of the order. My movement, considering the difficulties to be encountered and the preparations necessary to be made, was, I think, promptly executed and without "delay", in the usual acceptation of the meaning of that term.

General Johnston not having consulted with m; e, or in any way asked for my plan or opinion, I had perhaps no right to suppose that he was "imperfectly acquainted with m; y position and resources, as well as with the movements and forces of the enemy; " but, on the contrary, when he ordered my advance, I would have been justified i; n supposing that he must have been better informed as to the disposition of the forces of the enemy than myself. But, notwithstanding this, had I been upheld by the opinions of my general officers, I would not have advanced beyond Edwards Depot, as I deemed it very hazardous to make any forward movement, but would there have awaited, on chosen ground, the attack of the enemy.

The interval which elapsed between my communications (informing General Johnston in the first that I would obey his instructions at once, though against my own judgment, and in the SECOND that I would move in a direction to cut off the supplies of the enemy) was not long enough to change or interfere with any movement of his.

By no possibility could General Johnston have effectually co-operated with me in the movement toward Clinton, he at that time having retired before the greatly superior force of the enemy, in the direction of Canton; was some 20 miles distant from Clinton, and, moreover, the