I will cross with two divisions; bring all transportation here; camp at the forks of the road, and report to you at Abbeville to-morrow evening unless you send me different orders by Grierson.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Springfield, Ill., December 2, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
In pursuance of the authority with which you were pleased to vest me, and agreeably to your expressed wish, I have diligently striven to provide for the adequate increase of the cavalry arm of the proposed Mississippi expedition; but in consequence of the large draft made upon the male population of military age for the prosecution of the war, and of impediments interposed by the great demand for labor to carry on industrial pursuits, have not succeeded to the desired extent.
In view of this fact I would respectfully suggest a different mode of accomplishing the same object. I would provide horses or mules with equipments complete to mount at least one-fifth of the whole infantry force of the expedition; or, if horses or mules cannot be purchased in time, I would seize such as might be found in the possession of disloyal citizens in the hostile districts through which the column might pass. Inferior animals of the description mentioned would answer, if the best could not be had, as they would only be used occasionally to meet an emergency requiring the rapid conveyance of infantry from one place to another. Of course the men would dismount in action.
I any event, however, saddle-blankets, bridles, rope for halters, nosebags, and supers would be required.
If it should be objected that such service would tend to demoralize the infantry (not so upon the plan I propose) I would not charge them with the care of the animals except when using them. At all other times they should be cared for by slaves seeking refuge in my camp, or who had been impressed for that purpose.
Thus mounted, the infantry would be prepared to perform the double duty of men on foot and on horseback. By rapid movements they could retard the advance of the foe, cut his communications, destroy his trains, and harass him at every step. In like manner they could rapidly pursue a retreating foe and continually annoy and distress him. To add to their efficiency I would also provide them with a suitable number of mountain howitzers to meet any demand for artillery service; and for the same purpose I would supply each battalion of cavalry with two pieces of the same character.
If an example was required to illustrate the soundness of these views I might refer to the success of the enemy in capturing our forces at Murfreesborough, in Tennessee; in overrunning Kentucky, and in signalizing these frequent raids by the spoils torn from peaceful citizens.
Another question of great importance relates to the means to be employed to transport army supplies. While it might not be advisable to curtail the complement of wagons and teams allowed to each regimental and other organization of the forces, yet it is deemed highly important that suitable provision should be made for converting the team animals into pack animals whenever occasion might require it. Indeed such provision is deemed indispensable to certainty and celerity of movement