COLUMBUS, December 26, 1861.
In the opinion expressed in General Polk's dispatch, early last week, I concurred. Since then the forces in our front are known to have been reduced to 15,000 men. Now we could spare, until you conflict is over, 3,000 men, to be promptly returned. The forces in our front have gone against Price. This is my opinion, under the altered condition of the enemy's force.
GID. J. PILLOW.
BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, Beech Grove, Ky., December 26, 1861.
Bowling Green, Ky.:
SIR: I sent to Gainesborough two trains of wagons, amounting to about 150, to receive army stores brought by the boats. I infer from what is reported to me that 80 or 100 more wagon loads remain on board. I cannot spare more wagons now. The river being very low, the boats did not get higher than Carthage. The trains will probably not return before the last of the month.
I desire very much to bring one of the boats up to this point; it would contribute much to our security in more than one way, and if it can be brought up with its freight will save us much wagoning.
This morning I sent down on the north side of the river 650 cavalry-men, under Lieutenant-Colonels McNairy, Branner, and McClellan, with instructions to observe the enemy at and near Columbia and descend to Burkesville by to-morrow evening, giving me by express messenger information of all they saw and heard. They are instructed to send forward a detachment to communicate with the boat at Celina, and the boat is ordered to steam up to Celina by the evening of the 28th, to receive the news to be communicated by the cavalry. If deemed safe, the boat is ordered to ascend to Mill Springs and the cavalry is instructed to return on the north bank in such way as to give it security. If my information seems to make it necessary, I will make with infantry and artillery such demonstration towards Jamestown, Ky., and Columbia as will tend to keep the enemy away from the river. I doubt the success of the enterprise, but I consider it so desirable to bring the boat up, that I will spare no effort to accomplish it.
Colonel Wood's battalion and Captain McClung's battery have arrived, and I am advised that Colonel Powell's regiment has been ordered to follow.
Letters from Major-General Crittenden and Brigadier-General Carroll, of 15th, 17th, and 18th instant, have just been received, by which I am advised that they will be here in a few days, and that a part of General Carroll's brigade is ready to march to this point.
I have deemed it proper within the last days to permit the forces to commence building huts, to shield them from the rigors of winter. I have not yet completed and still work daily some force on the earth-work defenses in front of the position occupied. No pickets of the enemy have crossed Fishing Creek for some days. I have no recent reliable information of their movements, but suppose they are not likely to attack me in the strong position I hold. For a few days at least I will not be prepared to hunt them up.
F. K. ZOLLICOFFER,