HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION,
Memphis, Tenn., September 4, 1862.
Major JOHN A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Corinth:
SIR: I have allowed more time to pass than I should to communicate with the general commanding, but nothing has transpired here worthy of note, and as you know my times is well taken up with the thousand and one little details of necessary duty. The weather has been so hot and roads so dusty that I have been unable to drill as much as should have been done, but generally the brigades are pretty well disciplined and instructed. Our numbers have increased by about 1,000 by absentees joining here, but we are short of arms. Captain Lyford is now here, and has examined all the matters pertaining to his branch of service. I have set apart one brick house inside the fort as an ordnance office and place of issue, and have given him the old brewery under the hill as an ordnance storehouse.
The engineers are constructing four magazines in connection with the fort, and there were two powder-houses on the river bank which we have appropriated, so that I feel assured we will have at Memphis the best possible storage for all the ammunition needed for the fort or for issue to troops.
I have, by board specially appointed, appraised all buildings inside of the fort and for some distance outside, which are already vacated or being so. Tenants thus dispossessed are supplied with other houses in Memphis of equal value. Some of the houses thus taken must be destroyed, but others are put to use either as hospital quarters or storage. By extending the original lines north we take in a large cotton-shed, with a high brick wall. This forms an admirable quartermaster's depot, and a battery erected close by command the city perfectly. The earthwork of the fort is well progressed and we are now beginning the gun platform. Colonel Bissell has brought down an immense lot of shot and shell, but a small quantity of gunpowder. He has also delivered heavy guns and carriages suited to the work, though not exactly the caliber prescribed by Captain Prime. Colonel Bissell is now operating along the river with the Engineer Regiment, Fifty-second Indiana. He is so energetic and full of zeal that I have not checked him though I fear he may cause the very thing we endeavor to prevent, viz, the firing on boats. There has been little or none of this of late, and I would favor the condign punishment of any one committing such outrage, but we must be careful not to render ourselves too harsh, or they will naturally seek revenge. He has just destroyed some houses at Hochelrode's, below, and as soon as he gets up I will make him report in writing and send you. He brought up in his last trip some negro women and children. I doubt the policy of burdening ourselves with such, as we can give them no employment and idle negroes of either sex are of no use to us in ear. If they seek refuge in our lines we cannot surrender them or permit force to be used in recapturing them, but I doubt the propriety of making them captive. We had over 1,300 negroes on the fort, but since I have allowed the quartermaster and regiments to use contrabands the force at the fort has fallen to 800. The enemy has made herculean efforts to prevent negroes getting to our lines, and they partially succeed, but all say that the negroes everywhere are very saucy and disobedient. I do not think it to our interest to set loose negroes too fast.
On Thursday of last week I learned that a cavalry force was moving up from Abbeville, and inferring their purpose was to attack Bolivar or