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1044 Series I Volume XXIV-III Serial 38 - Vicksburg Part III

Page 1044 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

nothing. I know many persons discharged as conscripts in this State who are fine business men, and whose services should not be lost to the army. I also know of many conscripts capable of performing military duty who have never been in the service of the Government, in the army or elsewhere. The number of absentees, stragglers, and deserters from the army scattered over the State is also alarmingly great. Could all these men be restored to the ranks, a great change would at once be effected in our prospects. The railroads, too, have many persons in their employment whose places could be filled by slaves, and this remark is also applicable to our hospitals. I suggest, too, that slaves should be impressed for service in the army as wagoners, pioneers, sappers and miners, &c. Our able-bodied negro men are now being conscripted into the army of the enemy. At Memphis and Corinth there are now several thousand negroes under drill, with the prospect of their being made pretty good soldiers; and, to prevent more of our slaves from being appropriated by the enemy, we should ourselves bring their services into requisition. Under judicious treatment, the army is really the safest place for the negroes. It might, perhaps, be well to pay to the negroes a part of their monthly wages, and in every other possible way pains should be taken to attach them to the places they may be called upon to fill. I have ever had the fullest confidence in the loyalty of Lieutenant-General Pemberton, and, without expressing an opinion as to his capacity as an officer, I must be permitted at the same time to say that I do not believe that the army which he lately commanded can ever be reorganized by him. The soldiers now scattered over the Confederacy have last all confidence in General Pemberton, and their determination is almost universal never again to take the field under his lead. It may be that great injustice is thus done General Pemberton, but he practical effect of the want of confidence is the same whether it be with or without sufficient cause. This want of confidence is not confined to the enlisted men, but prevails alike among all classes of the officers. And now, for this want of confidence to be ignored by the Government, would, I fear, be most disastrous to the country., General Johnston, I think, still enjoys the entire confidence of the people and soldiers of this department. It is believed here that his long absence from this department last winter and spring was not voluntary on his part, and, therefore, blame for the fall of Vicksburg is not generally imputed to him. The recent proclamation of the President on the subject of filling up our ranks is a step in the right direction, but this should be followed up by other measures of the most energetic character that can be devised. There is danger that the army and people will become despondent, and to avert this the Government should now put forth the most strenuous


Most respectfully, your obedient servant,



Grenada, August 4, 1863.

Present indications render it probable that the enemy will soon attempt a raid into this district. When they come, it will be with a strong force, and with the determination to take possession of the country, or to destroy all that is valuable in it. It is time when every true-hearted man should rise in defense of his home. There is no time for delay; the enemy are at our doors, and to-morrow may see our homes in ruins and

Page 1044 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.