1,000 men should go, and I would prefer 2,000. The movement should be supported by a strong force of infantry and artillery, which should follow the expedition in such a way as to guard any crossing of a stream and support the retreat. This reserve should be 1,000 strong, and should be only 30 or 40 miles out from river when cavalry returns. The gunboats would be needed to support the river point, which I suppose would be Friar's Point. Such is the outline. The men must take nothing but provisions and ambulances. They must move night and day. The danger would be burning bridges in our rear, which may be avoided by leaving a company at such bridges. Great care must be taken to cover the movement; an advance of a small trading expedition, of infantry only, to hold Friar's Point and get hold of all the means of sending out intelligence would be necessary. This should be at least twenty-four hours in advance of a general move and should not have the least appearance of a cavalry expedition. The destruction of a bridge or two at or near Grenada is all that I contemplate, so as to prevent the enemy from using the railroad. Vandever or Baker would be a proper man to lead such a movement. I may follow or precede this with a telegraphic communication cautiously worded to prevent outsiders from knowing my purpose. Keep this knowledge very close. Examine the maps at General Washburn's old headquarters and give me early information of your note of preparation.
I am, general, very truly, yours,
SAML. R. CURTIS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
La Grange, Tenn., November 7, 1862.
Major General J. B. MCPHERSON,
Commanding, & c., La Grange, Tenn.:
SIR: I am directed by Major-General Grant to communicate to you the following:
To-morrow (the 8th instant) you will make a reconnaissance in force with one division in the direction of Holly Springs, with two days' rations in haversacks, taking the westerly roads.
General Hamilton with similar force will co-operate with you, taking the easterly roads, and join you on the main road to Holly Springs, about 10 miles from this place.
You will particularly note the topography of the country, and send a copy of map to these headquarters.
The cavalry of your division will report to Colonel Lee, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, at Davis' Mill, to-morrow at 10 a. m., and the cavalry portion will push as near Holly Springs as possible to ascertain the force, position, and movements of the enemy, as also the location of roads and water.
It is not necessary you should accompany the reconnaissance in person; exercise your own discretion in the matter.
Should you be satisfied Holly Springs is evacuated, and it can be occupied without an engagement, take it and send back couriers for supplies.
You will caution commanders of regiments against acts of vandalism, & c., against straggling, and hold officers to a strict accountability for violation of instructions or neglect of duty.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE P. IHRIE,
Colonel and Aide-de-Camp, U. S. Army.