RICHMOND, VA., July 11, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON:
Your telegram of the 8th received. You know what force you left in Alabama and Mississippi, and what part of it has, since, you left that department, been transferred to re-enforce you in Georgia. You were, therefore, in condition to judge of the value of the belief that there are now for the defense of those States 16,000 cavalry, and of the conclusion drawn from that belief. The proposition to send 4,000 cavalry from that department to break up the railroad between the enemy and Dalton suggests the inquiry, Why not so employ those already sent to you from that department, or others of equal number, for the proposed operation, the importance of which has long been recognized, and the immediate execution of which has become a necessity? If it be practicable for distant cavalry, it must be more so for that which is near, and former experiences have taught you the difference there would be in time, which is now of such pressing importance. Will write to you and give information in relation to the condition of General S. D. Lee's department, which, I perceive, you cannot possess.
RICHMOND, VA., July 11, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Army in Georgia:
SIR: In a telegram of this date I promised to give you by letter some information in relation to the department of General S. D. Lee, which your dispatch indicated you did not possess. General Lee telegraphed on the 8th instant from Tupelo:
Enemy advanced to Ripley yesterday evening; is exceedingly cautious and careful. His force about 15,000, mostly veteran troops. Ninety-days' men left on railroad. My force 7,500 cavalry, 1,500 dismounted men, 20 pieces of artillery.*
On the 9th, from same place, he telegraphed:
Troops left Morganza [July] 6th for New Orleans. Canby is no doubt now moving on Mobile with 20,000 men. Column of enemy south of Ripley, reported 12,000 to 15,000 strong, advancing slowly. I deem it of vital importance that an infantry force be put in Mobile at once. I can only put a part of my cavalry there, dismounted.*
On the same day (9th instant) General Maury, at Mobile, telegraphed:
Just heard from New Orleans. Canby preparing to come here with about 20,000 men. Expedition seems almost ready.*
The enemy had made movements from Vicksburg and Natchez. The first was met by General Adams, commanding the brigade of General Lee's division which remained in Mississippi when the other three brigades were sent to Alabama, and thence, I am informed, to re-enforce your army in Georgia, and the expedition, after getting as far as Jackson, was abandoned, and the enemy, it is said, returned to Vicksburg severely punished. Of that which started from Natchez no report has reached me. The recent movement of General Pillow and its results are, I suppose, known to you. I have no official information in regard to it, or of the troops under his command.
If the force confronting the enemy at Ripley were withdrawn a detachment might lay waste the stored and growing supplies of the Tombigbee Valley, and the main body, liberated from the protection of Memphis and free flank attack, could (and probably would) move rapidly
* For full text of dispatches, see Vol. XXXIX, Part II.