HEADQUARTERS ARMY IN THE FIELD,
Abbeville, Miss., December 2, 1862.
Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN:
McArthur's division is here. Quinby with his division, and McPherson with Logan's division, on the north side of the river, with instructions to camp there for the night and repair bridges. Our cavalry have gone to the front several hours since, and are probably now at Oxford. Artillery had been heard from the south, but as no messenger has returned I imagine it is nothing but an attempt on the part of the enemy to cover their retreat. I do not expect you to be able to do anything to-morrow with your artillery or infantry, but with the cavalry a reconnaissance can be made to your front and southwest.
If this rain continues the roads will become so impassable that the distance to haul supplies will be shortened as much as practicable. In that case you can move the forces with you to join those here, and instruct the remaining division to move up to the neighborhood of Lumpkin's Mill. I cannot tell until news is received from the advance cavalry whether I will pursue any farther for the present or not with infantry and artillery.
Let me hear from you by the messenger that will deliver this.
U. S. GRANT,
WYATT, December 2, 1862- p. m.
DEAR SIR: I wrote you about two hours since, but Grierson met your messenger at the ferry and returned with it, and I send it with this.
The roads are cut up terribly. M. L. Smith is hard at work on a bridge. I have four boats in the river and a kind of raft made of the two halves of the ferry-boat, which was a good large one, cut in two. Grierson is now across with his cavalry, and my advance regiment is across.
I advise you to let me hold this ground till you resolve what action to take. I can make a good bridge and clear out the obstructions on the river. I will throw M. L. Smith's division across as soon as the bridge is done, and all my men and wagons will be up to-night. I will order Grierson to-night to look toward Oxford, cross to Abbeville, and come in to-morrow.
I sent a train of 100 wagons to Coldwater this morning for rations, and ordered it to come to Wyatt unless your ordered otherwise. There is a by-road, however, to Holly Springs, and this is one of the main traveled roads to Oxford; with a bridge it will be as good a route as by Lumpkin's Mill. To Holly Springs, 20 miles; to Oxford, 14 miles; to Abbeville, 6 miles.
This country is simply impracticable in rainy weather.
Rumor among citizens is that Federals have Panola. Can it be possible that Steele's expeditions did not reach Grenada and turned to Panola? This would account for the retreat, but won't accomplish our purpose. I have a prisoner who says he went to Abbeville to get on the cars yesterday, but they were so crowded that he could not get in, and was picket up this a. m. by our men.
From a high hill here at 11 a. m. I saw a high smoke at Oxford. I think the enemy has gone to Grenada, back of the Yalubusha.