P. S.-The most direct means of communicating with headquarters will be to send dispatches to be mailed at Loudon, and if they be important the commanding officer at that place can be directed to send them by telegraph.
H. L. C.,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE, Knoxville, March 26, 1862.
Brigadier General S. B. MAXEY,
GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs me to inform you, in response to your telegram, that he desires the immediate destruction of bridges, tunnels, culverts, &c., upon the roads designated in my letter of the 24th instant, and especially that this shall be done as far in the direction of Nashville as possible. It is by effectually obstructing the railroad northwest of Tullahoma that the advance of the enemy toward Stevenson and Sparta will be impeded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. L. CLAY,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Corinth, Miss., March 27, 1862.
Major General LEONIDAS POLK,
Commanding First Grand Division:
GENERAL: You will instruct Major-General Cheatham in writing that the object of sending his division to Bethel [Station] is to defend the road from Savannah to Bolivar, and to guard and protect, as far as practicable in its vicinity, the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and the Mississippi Central. For these purposes he will station an advance guard of at least two regiments and two or four pieces of artillery at or about Purdy (wherever the locality will be most favorable) with orders when about to be overpowered by the enemy to fall back slowly and in good order on the main body at or about Bethel [Station], where another stand will be made. Thence his line of retreat should be on Bolivar, where a desperate stand should be made, so as to allow this army time to attack the enemy in flank and rear.
The advance guard of infantry should bivouac, being sent out for three or four days at a time, coming in only after having been regularly relieved; the officers of the old guard communicating all the information in their power to those of the new one. These guards should not be encumbered with tents, and should be provided with only the lightest baggage.
A cavalry force with proper pickets should be thrown out well in advance of the infantry pickets, so as to guard all the avenues of approach to Purdy, with orders to watch closely the movements of the enemy, to give timely notice of his approach. They should be careful not to act on mere rumors and create false alarms.
The balance of the cavalry should patrol constantly along and in advance of the road from Purdy to Lexington and in the direction of