lumbia and Savannah should not be removed from there if it can be avoided, and the force near Murfreesborough should only be reduced when the enemy has fully developed his plans.
It will not be advisable to re-enforce you from here unless the danger should be very great. At present the gunboats can cover communication with you while you occupy Tuscumbia, but if the water falls they cannot get above Eastport. Lighter boats can go if the enemy does not prevent them. Communicate with me daily by some means. It will always be possible to do or suggest something for you if you become very much straightened. Use one of the telegraph ciphers in the absence of any other.
General Morgan reports on the 19th that Kirby Smith had been at Chattanooga, but had returned to Knoxville, where there were 4,000 or 5,000 troops; 3,000 or 4,000 at Cumberland Gap, which he will very soon attack.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. C. BUELL,
FLAG STEAMER BENTON,
Off Fort Pillow, April 23, 1862.
Quartermaster-General M. C. MEIGS,
Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I inclose a letter just received from Commander Porter, in Saint Louis, who makes application for funds immediately, as being necessary to the prompt and economical equipment and readiness of the Essex for sea service or to join the flotilla.
At this distance from Saint Louis and Cairo, and in my state of health, which is very feeble, resulting from the great inflammation in my left foot and leg, arising from my wound at Fort Donelson, preventing my stepping on the ground for the last sixty-four days, and keeping my whole system in a febrile state, with weakness and loss of appetite, greatly debilitating me, I have been unable almost to attend to the pressing duties of the flotilla here. I have therefore done comparatively nothing toward expediting the fitting out of the Essex, especially as Commander Porter is in communication with the War Department, and has authority to fit out the rams for the flotilla, but as an increased force at the earliest possible moment is essential to us toward counteracting the large number of gunboats now nearly completed by the rebels, I hope that means may be devised to dispatch with all possible haste the completion of such gunboats to re-enforce us as the Department may have directed.
Unfortunately for us, a few days after our arrival here, and when General Pope and myself had made such arrangements which, humanly speaking must have resulted in the capture of Fort Pillow, he (General Pope) was suddenly ordered to leave with his army of 20,000 men to re-enforce General Halleck near Corinth. He immediately left with his army, leaving but two regiments of infantry, without proper implements for mounting guns and opening bayous to blockade the river below, while the gunboats, or a part of them, could be placed in a commanding position below the forts and the remaining gun and mortar boats attack the rebels above. As it is, we have been doing, although not very successfully thus far, all in our power to accomplish good results with our feeble means.