Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 12, 1863: Joseph E. Johnston to James A. Seddon

From Mobile, Alabama, General Joseph E. Johnston writes to Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon explaining that there isn't much he can do to help John C. Pemberton in Vicksburg.
MOBILE, March 12, 1863.

Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I have had the honor to receive here, being on my way to Lieutenant-General Pemberton's headquarters, two dispatches [telegraphic] from you, by way of Chattanooga, to which I have briefly replied by telegraph. The first directs me to order General Bragg to Richmond, for conference. I shall obey the order as soon as I can. I hope that most meritorious officer's removal is but temporary, and that the Government will adopt no course which might be regarded by the public as evidence of want of confidence in his generalship.

The SECOND asks if I have any resources under my control to meet the advance from Corinth, reported by Lieutenant-General Pemberton; if troops can be spared from Mobile or Mississippi, or from Middle Tennessee for the purpose; if Van Dorn's cavalry, at least, might not return.

The infantry for defense on the land side of Mobile amounts to but 2,500.

I reported to the President, in December, that nearly 20,000 additional troops were required in Mississippi. Since then Grant's army has been heavily re-enforced. Allow me to remind you also of what I have said of the length of time necessary for the transfer of troops in any considerable numbers from Mississippi to Tennessee. Those two departments are more distant from each other in time than Eastern Virginia and Middle Tennessee.

In relation to detaching from General Bragg's army, permit me to remind you that I have been for the last two months asking the Department to strengthen it, and representing it as too weak to oppose the powerful army in front of it, with confidence. On that account, Major-General Van Dorn's cavalry was added. Dividing that army might be fatal to it. Major-General [S.] Jones reported some time ago that the enemy was sending troops from the Kanawha Valley. Soon after, our friends about Nashville informed General Bragg that Major-General [J. D.] Cox had arrived with his DIVISION had also joined Rosecrans. I therefore suggested that the troops which had been opposed to those DIVISIONS in Virginia should be sent to General Bragg without delay. Allow me to repeat that suggestion.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. Johnston.

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