[Inclosure Numbers 1.] CANTON, MISS., May 31, 1863.
GENERAL: Port Hudson is invested by Major-General Ranks, Vicksburg by Major-General Grant. I am preparing to aid Vicksburg, but I cannot march to Port Hudson without exposing my little army to destruction. If you can do anything to succor Port Hudson, I beg you to do it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. Johnston.
[Inclosure Numbers 2.] JACKSON, June 3, 1863.
Lieutenant General E. KIRBY SMITH:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I inclose you with this an extract from a letter just received from the Secretary of War,* and hope that you may be able to direct action upon the principle of the suggestion. Port Hudson is invested. Whether it is possible for you to do anything in aid of the garrison I do not know, not knowing where your troops are nor their strength. The investing force is said to be 20,000 Northeastern troops. I need not tell you what a service to the Confederacy would be performed by relieving the place-one which I am not in a condition to render; Grant's position makes it impossible. Grant's position makes it impossible. The Secretary's suggestion to make Helena may be practicable; if so, it is well worth doing. The most important object you can have is the maintaining communication with this side of the Mississippi and preventing the enemy's possession of its banks. I know that you will do all in your power, but do not know the amount of that power.
As ever, yours, truly,
J. E. Johnston.
[Inclosure Number 3.] HARRISONBURG, June 22, 1863.
Major General RICHARD TAYLOR,
Comdg. Dist. West. La., Alexandria:
GENERAL: I have just returned from my MISSION to General Johnston. I shall proceed to General Walker's headquarters, and communicate to him the information received from General Johnston.
I regret to inform you that he considers the situation of Vicksburg eminently critical. Grant is being heavily re-enforced by Burnside's corps, and this, added to his strength of position, renders the condition of Vicksburg, in General Johnston's opinion, almost hopeless. The greatest success he anticipates is the withdrawal of the garrison and its safety, but the difficulties in the way of accomplishing even this are very great. General Johnston has 25,000 men; Grant has certainly 80,000, probably 100,000. General Johnston's troops are far from being the best, owing to causes which you may easily conjecture. Grant is intrenched in a naturally strong position, where he ought to whip an attacking force of double his numbers. To accomplish anything, it is extremely important that General Johnston should communicate with General Pemberton. He receives communications from him by men floating down the river at night, but can get none to him. He request every effort to be made on this side to that end. He also desires that he may have a ready means of communication with you by way of Natchez, to which point the telegraph extends. He suggests no other
*See Part I, p. 219.