moved forward on the direct road to Fort Jefferson. The Twenty-ninth with a section of Schwartz's battery, and the Tenth, with another section of the same battery, after having rendered the bridges near their encampments impassable, falling in the rear of the column, moved on with it to Fort Jefferson. During the exposure of this day's march, which was considered eminently critical, the column was guarded against surprise by strong guards of cavalry and infantry moving in front, rear, and on the left flank. The Eighteenth and Thirty-first Regiments, together with three of Dresser's artillery, having arrived at Fort Jefferson by 1 o'clock p.m., were immediately embarked for Cairo, the remainder of the column following the next day to the same place.
The unavoidable deficiency of transportation with which my command set out, aggravated by the bad condition of the roads, prevented me from taking, on leaving Cairo, the five days' supply of rations and forage directed by the commanding officer of this district; hence the necessity of an early resort to other sources of supply. None other presented but to quarter upon the enemy or to purchase from loyal citizens. I accordingly resorted to both expedients as I had opportunity. In some cases finding live stock, provisions, forage, &c., the owners of which had abandoned it and gone into the rebel army, I took and appropriated it to these as were indispensable, and caused certificates to be issued, charging the Government for the fair value of the articles thus obtained. By these means of supply, resorted to from necessities of the case, substantial economy was practiced in saving to the Government in supplies and transportation more than their full value for the five days named.
The reconnaissance thus made completed a march of 140 miles by the cavalry and 75 miles by the infantry over icy or miry roads during a most inclement season, and has led to the discovery of several important roads which did not appear upon our maps. It has also disclosed the fact that, with proper crossings of Mayfield Creek at Elliott's and O'Neal's Mills, also immediately south of Blandville, and still above at Hayworth's Mill, no serious obstacle will intervene to prevent an army marching in several divisions by different routes upon Columbus; and, while this is true, it is also worthy of mention that Mayfield Creek affords a strong natural barrier against any advance of the enemy upon a force taking position behind it. Besides the immediate object of so formidable a demonstration, other beneficial results, perhaps of little less importance, have flowed from it. Without doubt it has exploded many false report studiously and sedulously circulated by the enemy to our detriment. It has forcibly and deeply impressed the inhabitants of the district through which we passed with the superiority of our military preparations and of our ultimate ability to conquer the rebellion. It inspired hope among many loyal citizens, who hailed us as deliverers, whom I regret our unexpected withdrawal will probably leave victims of rebel persecution and proscription. This consideration, with others having great weight with me, prompts me in conclusion to presume upon your indulgence so far as to urgently recommend a renewed advance of our forces, if not immediately upon Columbus, at least so far as to regain the ground we recently occupied. Landing a floating depot at Puntney's Bend, under protection of our gunboats, from which to draw supplies, and reoccupying Milburn and the crossings at Weston's, with adequate forces threatening the railroad back of Columbus, and co-operating with our gunboats and such other force as had seized New Madrid, it would be placed within our power in a large measure to