because my men deserted under similar circumstances. It is said that my last report before this time showed 1,700 men for duty, and that when the enemy reached Grenada I had but 700.
It will be remembered that Vicksburg had fallen and the whole country was greatly depressed. All of the Second Arkansas Regiment except 40 men deserted. The term of service of Blythe's regiment, the last report of which was 354 aggregate present, and of the Sixth Battalion, aggregate 125, with State troops, was about to expire, and General George, commanding State troops, had given them permission to retire from camp to reorganize, and they were not in hand. Major Chalmers' battalion, 94 men, which was guarding the Tallahatchie at Wyatt, was cut off by the enemy that crossed at Rocky Ford. Falkner's regiment, 250 strong, was arresting deserters and did no get into Grenada at all, and McGuirk's, about the same size, was engaged in the same business, and only a part of them were on hand for the fight. These facts were represented to General Lee once before, but he seemed still to think that I was somewhat culpable for having so many men engaged in arresting stragglers and deserters. I beg, therefore, to exhibit the order that I received from Lieutenant-General Hardee about the arrest of deserters from General Johnston's army, and to state that the deserters were represented to be in considerable bodies, armed and threatening resistance. Under these circumstances I think I would have been derelict in my duty if I had sent out a smaller force to arrest them than I did.
It was my misfortune that the enemy came upon me at such a time, but I cannot admit that there was any fault in me.
I had been quite sick just before, and as soon as I was able to travel had gone to General Johnston to ask for assistance. The enemy came in my absence.
Hoping this will explain a matter which has heretofore been unsatisfactory, I am, major, yours,respectfully,
JAS. R. CHALMERS,
HEADQUARTERS, Morton, Miss., July 29, 1863.
GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Hardee, commanding, desires that you will take energetic measures for the apprehension in your vicinity of deserters from this army with which the country is swarming, and send them under guard to these headquarters as fast as arrested.
Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
T. B. ROY,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
RICHMOND, December 14, 1863.
General J. E. JOHNSTON:
Brigadier-General Forrest was promoted to meet your wants, and the suggestion as to his position was made because of his local knowledge. Major-General Lee remains senior officer of cavalry and you can use both as the public interest requires.