War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0327 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

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he could not, therefore, have joined me earlier than the morning of the 15th), and that I had pushed hurriedly forward on the direct road to Clinton. I ask any candid m; ind what would probably, nay, what must certainly, have been the result? I can seen none other than the entire destruction or capture of my army and the immediate fall of Vicksburg. Such were my firm convictions at the time, and I so expressed myself to my general officers in council, and such they are still. I have explained, in my report, why, contrary to my own judgment and to the subversion of all my plans for the defense of Vicksburg, I determined to advance from my position at Edwards Depot, and thus abandon the line of the Big Black, which (although I had crossed when I learned that the main body of General Grant's army was approaching the Southern Railroad, to protect m; y communications with the east and more easily to avail myself of the assistance of my re-enforcements, which were daily arriving) I was yet in a position to recross readily by both the bridges, at the railroad and by Bridgeport, and thus defend my vital positions at Snyder's Mill and Chickasaw Bayou, if I should find that the enemy was advancing in too heavy force against Edwards Depot; and I accordingly informed General Johnston, on May 12, that the enemy was apparently moving his heavy force toward Edwards Depot, adding-

That will be the battle-field, if I can carry forward sufficient force, leaving troops enough to secure the safety of this place (Vicksburg).

I was firmly convinced that the enemy's supplies must be very limited, as he moved with but few wagons, and his dependence upon those to be drawn from his distant base at Grand Gulf or Bayou Pierre very precarious. I had good reason, therefore, to believe that he would be forced either to advance immediately upon Edwards Depot to give me battle (which I should have accepted or avoided, according to circumstances) or to return at once to his base upon the Mississippi River.

On May 7, and previous to my movement across the Big Black, the President of the Confederate States telegraphed me as follows:

I am anxiously expecting intelligence of your further active operations. Want of transportation of supplies must compel the enemy to seek a junction with their fleet after a few days' absence from it. To hold both Vicksburg and Port Hudson is necessary to a connection with Trans-Mississippi. You may expect whatever it is in my power to do.

I have now shown how important I considered it not to advance beyond m; y direct communication with Vicksburg and close proximity to the Big Black. Nor would I have done so-and I believe that every general officer of my command who attended the council held at Edwards Depot will sustain me in the assertion, so far as his opinion may go-but for the orders received from General Johnston on the morning of May 14. They know, one and all, the loud-voiced public sentiment which urged a forward movement. They also know (there may be an individual exception or two) how eager they themselves were (though they differed as to the preferable movement) to leave the position in which they had been in line of battle from the 13th to the morning of the 15th, and to advance upon the enemy, and they know further the feeling of their respective commands on the same subject. I have stated in my official report, and I reiterate here, that-

I had resisted the popular clamor for an advance, which began from the moment the enemy set his polluting foot upon the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. I had resisted, I believe, the universal sentiment of the army-I know of my general officers- in its favor (I now add, there my have been an exception or two), and yielded only to the orders of my superior.