vey to the general, and write now lest he may be waiting to hear from me. General Hurlbut's division entire marched from here on Saturday last [6th] for Brownsville. On Monday they were approaching Big Hatchie, east of Shelby Station and west of Somerville, since which time I have no clear account of them, but I feel certain they have reached Brownsville without much trouble. He should have reached that point on Wednesday, and by this time could be at Jackson or Bolivar, according to your orders. When Hurlbut moved I thought it of importance to check Villepigue at or near Abbeville, and also to destroy a bridge said to be under construction over Coldwater, on the road to and beyond Hernando. Accordingly I ordered General Morgan L. Smith, with the effective part of his brigade (about 1,500 men), 400 chosen cavalry, and a battery of artillery, to move about 17 miles toward Holly Springs, and then to turn square off to Hernando and there destroy the bridge in question and effectually tear up about 5 miles of that railroad, so that in no event could the enemy put it in order so as to transport men and materials within one day's march of Memphis. General Smith has not returned, but will be in to-morrow, and I have no doubt has succeeded in making a diversion by which General Hurlbut has reached his destination with little or no molestation, and in destroying effectually that railroad so as to be useless this campaign. I have heard accounts of various little skirmishes along Coldwater, in which we invariably succeeded, but the details can only be had after General Smight's return. According to the best information I can collect Villepigue has moved up to Holly Springs with about 2,000 infantry and twelve guns. Breckinridge's division has also in part moved up from Jackson, Miss. About 4,000 of them have reached Holly Springs. Their cavalry-Jackson's and Porter's and Pinson's cavalry-some 1,500, are encamped along Coldwater. I think their purpose is to pass up between you and Bolivar, or it may be they design merely to hold us in check while Bragg pushes on to Kentucky. But Kirby Smith in his proclamation to the Kentuckians announces that Breckinridge would be there, and I should suppose that he would make an effort to reach Kentucky this fall. As soon as General Smith returns I think I shall be able to arrive at some estimate of the forces that are now at or near Holly Springs. I am satisfied that the movement described by General Smith's brigade has kept this force where it is time enough to enable Hurlbut to co-operate with the force at Bolivar. If Steele would only cross over and destroy those railroads-a thing that two cavalry regiments might achieve-it would relieve you very much from any pressure from the direction of Jackson or Grenada. I am well assured that Breckinridge has come north, but I don't think his force exceeds 5,000 in all. Willepigue has not over 2,000, and the whole cavalry does not exceed 2,000. Hurlbut's forces and those at Bolivar ought to meet this combined movement.
Out fort progress well; seven guns mounted, and by Saturday I will have fifteen heavy guns in position in addition to forty-two field pieces, all in good order. Matters in the city quiet enough, and the Union men better satisfied, as I have been talking to them a little of their duties.
About 900 negroes work on the fort; many have gone away or to the regiments.
W. T. SHERMAN,