HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION,
Memphis, September 19, 1862.
Brigadier General FRED. STEELE, Helena, Ark.:
DEAR GENERAL: I take the liberty of inclosing a tracing of a map compiled at my headquarters, which I think is more accurate than any published chart.* I do it to illustrate the importance of a movement of which I wrote you a few days since. Senatobia has been the headquarters of Jackson, who has now gone north and is operating with Armstrong's cavalry about Bolivar. There are few or no troops there now. I caused the new railroad bridge on Coldwater, just above Senatobia, to be effectually broken and destroyed, with the saw-mill that yielded the material, so it cannot be repaired in three months. If you strike in and destroy that at Panola this road is useless for this whole campaign.
Breckinridge has gone over the Central road with his division. That road is in good condition up to Wolf River, at Davis' Mill, 7 miles south of Grand Junction. I think they are engaged in repairing that bridge, which would put them up to Bolivar. Bolivar is of importance, as it covers the railroad back for Grant. Hurlbut's division has gone there from here, leaving me short-handed for building a fort, holding a town, and making expedition. The breaking of that road (the Central) will have a material effect on the campaign. It would cut off rapid communication with the south from Breckinridge and also prevent his being re-enforced by Van Dorn. I have made close inquiries and find the section from abbeville to Spring Dale full of high and difficult trestles, which I have indicted on the map. I did propose to General Grant and he to Halleck the breaking of that entire section by a joint expedition from here and Helena; but since that time my force is reduced one-half, and I hardly feel justified in attempting so much, when I know there is a strong force abreast of me anxious to recapture Memphis, which would be as serious to you as to me. My fort is so far progressed that I feel no uneasiness about holding Memphis; but it may be that instead of going to Kentucky, as Breckinridge would, he may linger in the neighborhood until the released prisoners of war join him.
I mention all these points to show you how important it is that these railroads should be interrupted, and as soon as possible.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
[SEPTEMBER 19, 1862.]
COMMANDING OFFICER CONFEDERATE FORCES NEAR IUKA:
GENERAL: Inclosed find communication from General Ord and copy of dispatch. The dispatch is reliable. I await your reply to General Ord's suggestion.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
M. D. LEGGETT,
Colonel, Commanding Advance.
12 A. M., 19TH.
Can you not get the inclosed dispatch from Cairo to the general commanding the enemy in front? I think this battle decides the war finally,