CALHOUN STATION, May 16, 1863-11 a. m.
General GIST, C. S. Army:
GENERAL: I sent this morning, by your messenger, a reply to your letter of yesterday.
To wait for the quartermaster's wagons will probably consume time, which you cannot now afford to give. The small number of wagons which you require can surely be found in the country around you. Endeavor to find them immediately, and procure what you want by purchase or impressment, or, perhaps, by bartering expected wagons or horses for those you obtain.
A gentleman of the neighborhood has just promised to prepare for your passage of Pearl River at Madisonville; so direct your march to that point. Bring all the troops with you that may have arrived when you leave, and let me urge speedy preparation.
It is said that a party of the enemy has been to Brandon, destroying the railroad. Can you, should it be practicable while waiting for the transportation, punish any such party? This, of course, is SECONDARY.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. Johnston.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF Mississippi AND EASTERN LOUISIANA, Vicksburg, MISS., May 17, 1863.
General JOSEPH E. Johnston,
GENERAL: Whilst writing my communication this morning, the enemy attacked me on my right, left, and center. My troops, although strongly posted behind breastworks and protected in rifle-pits, were forced from their positions, owing to the demoralization consequent upon the retreat of yesterday. Every effort is now being made to reorganize the troops, and it is hoped that their numbers, although greatly diminished by incidents narrated, will be speedily increased.
The army has fallen back to the line of intrenchments around Vicksburg. As stated in my communication of this morning, this retreat will render it necessary to abandon the works at Snyder's Mill, which has accordingly been ordered. All the ammunition possible will be saved. The heavy guns, however, will necessarily be abandoned.
Two companies will be left at that point for the purpose of making a demonstration, and of spiking the guns and destroying the remaining stores whenever the emergency may arise.
The works at Fort Pemberton, which may prove essential to a line along the Yalabusha, have not been abandoned. The garrison of 200 men remain there.
I regret to say that as yet I have received no reliable, information with regard to General Loring's DIVISION. It is reported, but I cannot trace the rumor to a reliable source, that he is crossing the Big Black River at some point below the Big Black Bridge.
In addition to the artillery lost yesterday, I regret to state that most of the artillery of Bowen's DIVISION is lost. Yesterday it was all successfully brought off, but to-day was abandoned in the trenches, almost without an effort to save it.
I greatly regret that I felt compelled to make the advance beyond Big Black, which has proved so disastrous in its results.
J. C. PEMBERTON.