You have evidence of the capabilities of Fort Pemberton to prevent the enemy from reaching that point by water. As far as that is concerned, additional force would be more effectual there than anywhere else.
Would it be practicable to capture the two Federal vessels which passed Port Hudson? Have we boats enough for the attempt? If so, it would be well to make it, after the best possible preparation.
I have no apprehension for Port Hudson from Banks. The only fear is, that the canal may enable Grant to unite their forces. I believe that your arrangements at Vicksburg make it perfectly safe, unless that union should be effected.
Van Dorn's cavalry is absolutely necessary to enable General Bragg to hold the best part of the country from which he draws supplies. The Governor of Mississippi promised 6,000 men for the protection of people of the northern part of the State. How many of them are in the field?
In a recent telegram you expressed the opinion that the enemy is about to use the Memphis and Charleston instead of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Would not the Tennessee River be better for them than either? Or do you suppose that they are preparing to attempt again to advance by Holly Springs upon Grenada?
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. Johnston.
JACKSON, March 23, 1863.
President, Richmond, Va.:
Colonel Ferguson with Major Bridges' battalion have driven the enemy from Rolling Fork and about 3 miles down Deer Creek, capturing a number of barges. He reports the enemy in force on Deer Creek and Black Bayou.
C. L. STEVENSON.
A scout reports from Locopolis, on Tallahatchee, 8 a. m. 22nd, ten boats, with about 400 on each, passed down on 21st. Others above; can't tell how many. No report of another movement against Fort Pemberton, unless above indicated is. I think they will not return. Very heavy rains last night and this morning. No change elsewhere since my last.
J. C. PEMBERTON.
JACKSON, March 23, 1863.
General John S. BOWEN,
GENERAL: I am directed by the lieutenant-general commanding to say that he has read the instructions given you by Major-General Stevenson, and that he considers the establishment of batteries at Grand Gulf as essential for the defense of the mouth of Big Black, as for a SECOND point of defense on the Mississippi; the batteries should, therefore, be constructed to serve both purposes. General Stevenson's instructions relative to magazines should be complied with. Especial care should be had to have them properly drained. Your attention is called to the inclosed letter of Major Lockett,* and the subsistence referred to should be used as far as practicable.
J. H. MORRISON,