strength, must be first completely routed. I see no other mode by which a junction could have been effected, unless either General Johnston or myself should pass completely around the position or moving columns of the enemy. I have no reason to suppose he contemplated such a movement when he addressed to me his note of the 13th. In the absence of special instructions as to my route to reach the rear of the enemy at Clinton, I was certainly at liberty to select that which I should deem the most advantageous, time or the distance to be marched being only one element (though a very important one) which should influence my selection. I have no desire, however, to conceal the fact that my understanding of General Johnston's orders was to move as rapidly as possible to attack Sherman's corps at Clinton, or wherever I might find it, and I believed that is instructions were influenced by his supposing that these were the only troops I: should encounter, as no reference is made to any other force of the enemy.
It will be remembered now that I received these instructions between 9 and 10 o'clock on the morning of the 14th, near Bovina, on the WEST of the Big Black River. I at first determined to obey them at once, although, in my judgment, fraught with peril and absolute disaster, and so informed General Johnston. Before leaving Bovina, I gave some necessary instructions to meet this unexpected movement, and as soon as possible proceeded to Edwards Depot, where I arrived at about 12 o'clock, and learned from prisoners just captured that a corps of the enemy was on my right flank, with one DIVISION of it near Dillon's.
It will be observed in General Johnston's communication of the 14th, given in my report (unfortunately not received until the evening of the 16th), that he informs me he was compelled to evacuate Jackson at day, thus showing that within less than three hours of my receipt of his order he was himself compelled to leave Jackson, the enemy having moved from Clinton against that place. And in the same communication he further informs me that a body of troops, which was reported to have reached Raymond on the preceding night, advanced at the same time from that direction. Therefore, had I moved immediately, which I could not have done with more than 16,000 effective men, I should have encountered their combined forces in my from had they chosen to give me battle, while McClernand's corps, up my right, could either have interposed between me and Vicksburg or have moved at once upon my rear. Nor could I have had much assistance from the re-enforcements referred to by General Johnston, for in the same communication he informs me that-
Telegrams were dispatched when the enemy was near, directing General Gist to assemble the approaching troops at a point 40 or 50 miles from Jackson, and General Maxey to return to his wagons and provide for the security of his brigade; for instance, by joining General Gist.
He himself having moved, on the 14th, with the small force at Jackson, some 7 miles toward Canton, and thus placed himself not less than 15 miles (as I am informed) by the nearest practicable route from Clinton; and on the following day he marched 10 1/2 miles nearer to Canton and farther from Clinton.
Let us suppose, therefore, for the moment, that, neglecting all provision for the safety of Vicksburg, and by withdrawing Vaughn's brigade of 1,500 men from the defense of the Big Black Bridge (my direct line of communication with Vicksburg), I had swelled my little army at Edwards Depot to 17,500 (it must be remembered Tilghman's brigade was WEST of Big Black, guarding the important approach by Baldwin's Ferry, which was threatened by the whole of McClernand's corps, and