400 select cavalry, to move out cautiously by night and fall upon them. He did so most successfully, killing 5, wounding 15, and bringing in 6 prisoners and about 20 animals-horses and mules. He scattered the party and brought in all the papers, commissions, and muster-rolls. There is a small force under a Colonel ballentine at Byhalia, 5 miles out, and another party under an acting brigadier-general, J. A. Orr, at Holly Springs, but they are too far off to be surprised, so that an expedition against them would simply run down our horses and do not great good.
Since I caused the destruction of the town of Randolph and gave notice if boats engaged in commerce were fired on I should expel rebel families and cause others to take passage on those boats as common targets for the guerrillas, no boats have been molested.
A great deal of cotton has come in of late in small parcels, in single bales, &c., amounting in the aggregate to over a thousand bales, and I have somewhat relaxed the rules as to internal trade. Farmers have come in gangs, representing their determination to fight guerrillas and carry out to their suffering families the clothing and groceries necessary to their existence. I have no doubt this is in the main true. Though in some cases the privilege has been and will be abused, I think it good policy to encourage it, that the farmers and property holders may realize their dependence on other parts of our country, and also realize that a state of war long continued will reduce them to a state of absolute rain.
The band of guerrillas or partisan rangers are doing us less harm than our enemies, for they in their wants and necessities must take mae and corn, and will take it when and where they please, of friend or foe; the consequence is that the farmers and planters begin to realize that they have to submit to be plundered by these bands of marauders, and are getting heartily tired of it. Of course some do buy negro shoes for the use of guerrillas and salt for curing bacon. My own opinion is that all trade should be absolutely prohibited to all districts until the military commander notifies the Government that the rebellion is suppressed in that district, for we know, whatever restraint is imposed on steamboats, that clerks and hands do smuggle everything by which they can make profit. The great profit now made is converting everybody into rascals, and it makes me ashamed of my countrymen every time I have to examine a cotton or horse case. I have no doubt that our case sufferers from the fact that not only horses and cotton are bought of negroes and thieves under fabricated bills of sale, but that the reputations of even military men become involved. Still, as the Treasury authorities think it proper to ala two trade and encourage the byinhg of cotton it is my duty not to interpose any obstacle. Whenever I do detect fraud I punish it to the fullest extent; and we have made large and valuable prizes, all of which I see go to the use of the United States.
General Steele has passed up the river with half of his Helena command. General Carr remains at Helena with I suppose 7,000 or 8,000 men, too few to do much good; still I suppose all we can do is to hold fast all we have till the armies of Kentucky and Virginia get abreast of us.
I take it for granted that Price and Van Dorn will renew their efforts on your position, but the terrible punishment they have received will make them timid. I know and feel that these battles about Corinth have shaken the confidence of their adherents here awfully.
18 R R - VOL XVII, PT II