HDQRS. FIFTH DIVISION, ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Memphis, September 30, 1862.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee,
(Care of General Quinby, Columbus, Ky.):
DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 27th is this moment received.* I am not in possession of authentic data as to the exact location of the enemy's left of boats in the Yazoo or the road leading thereto. I am certain, however, that General Steele and Captains Phelps and Gwin, of the Navy, know all about it. My study has been mostly confined to the country between this and Grenada. I feel certain that the two railroads that branch from Grenada northward can and should be broken preliminary to operations against any of the Yazoo near its mouth. Almost the entire force of the enemy about Vicksburg has been moved north except the released prisoners, who are being removed and reorganized back of Vicksburg. If Steele was to move on Panola I could meet him there and we could jointly cross over to the Central road at a point below Oxford, where there are several very high pieces of trestle work requiring for repairs timbers of a length that could not be replaced in a long time. I have this from undoubted authority, and indicate their several positions on a map herewith.* With these roads broken a comparatively light force could operate between the Mississippi and Yazoo and could destroy the boats lying in the latter. The Yazoo is now very low, and those boats are surely blockaded for five months yet, giving ample time. My force here is now 8,122, of which say 7,000 are good, effective men. I have been drilling these very hard, and the infantry and artillery are in fine order. The cavalry, too, is in better trim and drill than at any former period. Our fort is drawing to completion, and 5,000 new troops could hold the works, leaving me my division for field operations.
You will have heard of the operations of guerrillas on the river. They have done little actual execution, but a good deal of mischief. I am determined to spare no efforts to check all such efforts or attempts on the boats. I send up a regiment to-day to bring form Randolph some guns, which I thought Colonel Bissell had already moved, but which are reported there. The guns are spiked, but still might be repaired and put in position much to our detriment.
Breckinridge has surely gone to Kentucky via Jackson, Meridian, Chattanooga, &c. He took with him only about 3,000 Kentuckians. Van Dorn in near Grand Junction. They are building a bridge there, showing their desire to operate by railroad. This makes it important this Central road should be broken below the Tallahatchie, and Helen is the best point to start from; and the same force can accomplish the other object, viz, the destruction of the boats in the Yazoo. I will write to General Steele for all the information he possesses on this point.
I had a flag of truce yesterday from General Hindman at Little Rock, from which I infer Holmes has gone north from there, although the bearer of the flag said he was at Little Rock sick.
I would be obliged if you would claim the Thirteenth Infantry for me. Wright took it after it had been relieved by my Seventy-seventh Ohio, whereby I lost both; not a fair trade. I doubt not they have enough troops at Cincinnati now and can well spare the battalion.
You know well that this is a magnificent place for assembling and