Shirk, proceeded up the Tennessee River to Chickasaw Landing, where all the troops were disembarked at 7 a. m. the 13th instant.
By my orders Major Bowman proceeded rapidly on the road to Iuka, the enemy's pickets retreating before him, and destroying themselves by fire a road bridge across Bear Creek, which I had ordered General Fry to destroy, to secure the right flank of the movement on the Bear Creek bridge. This bridge, about 7 miles from Chickasaw, being destroyed, Major Bowman proceeded rapidly up the road 8 miles farther, and on approaching the railroad bridge across Bear Creek he found it guarded by the enemy. He dismounted his men and advanced along the track, with flankers in the swampy ground, and drove the enemy from the bridge into the cut beyond and from that to the west; then, with axes which had been provided, he began the destruction of the trestle work to the east of the bridge, and with fire destroyed the bridge itself. This latter consisted of two spans, of 110 feet each, which were burned and fell into the river. With axes and fire he destroyed three pieces of trestle work of an aggregate length of 500 feet, also tearing down about half a mile of telegraph wire, rolling it up, and throwing it into the river. He gathered ties and other timber, made bonfires, and piled on them the railroad iron, so as to bend it and render it useless for future repairs. While so employed the head of General Fry's column of infantry arrived and assisted in this work of destruction. They jointly destroyed Bear Creek Bridge and 500 feet of trestle work, that cannot be repaired in a month. Bear Creek is very bad in itself, and the swampy bottom is impassable to wheeled vehicles, so that the breach is vital to the operations of an enemy. Having thus fulfilled well their orders, Major Bowman and General Fry returned to Chickasaw with their commands, reaching the boats about 9 p. m., having marched about 30 miles.
Having thus succeeded in the main purpose of the expedition, I wanted to proceed 20 miles farther up the Tennessee, and there make another break, as well as to push on to Tuscumbia Landing and Florence. At Florence there is a very fine bridge for a branch railroad that connects Florence with Tuscumbia, with a road bridge underneath, but it was the unanimous opinion of all the pilots that the gunboats and even one of the transports could not pass Bee-tree Sholas or Colbert Shoals, both rock bottom, on which it would not do to risk the gunboats. Having no personal knowledge on the subject, and bound to defer to the opinion of pilots who had navigated the Tennessee for thirty years, I was reluctantly compelled to abandon the latter part of your design-the destruction of the Florence Bridge.
I am still ready to undertake it with boats of light draught, made secure by some field pieces and bales of hay, or to march by land from Waterloo, just above Chickasaw, to Florence. Our cavalry, under Major Bowman, moved finely on this occasion, and the infantry column of General Fry sustained their well-earned reputation for steadiness and discipline.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Fifth Division.
Captain JOHN A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General to General Grant.