Helena I wish you would return them to Friar's Point, or the most suitable place to march them directly upon Grenada, or embark them for Vicksburg, as I may decide upon. General Halleck's dispatch was only this moment received, and my mind is not fully made up as to the best method of capturing Vicksburg. I can, by the time our troops could reach there, have the railroad completed to Grenada and supply of provisions thrown in there. From that point Jackson, Miss., could be reached without the use of the roads. Jackson once in our possession would soon insure the capitulation of Vicksburg.
I rather incline, however, to the plan of seeding your forces, and all I can spare from Memphis and here, say 25,000 in addition to yours, down the Mississippi to effect a landing above Vicksburg, probably a short distance up the Yazoo,k and have them co-operate with the gunboats, whilst I move south with the remainder of my forces from here.
Please inform me by return couriers all you know about the present condition of our gunboats. You having been so long on the Mississippi River looking toward Vicksburg are possessed of much information as to the best method of attacking that point that I am not possessed of. I would be very glad to have your views.
I shall send Sherman, if the Mississippi route is determined upon, and would be very glad if you could accompany him. I have no definite news of the result of Hoveys' expedition. From the enemy evacuating Tallahatchie so suddenly I judged that it had proven successful. We followed up the evacuation with all dispatch, our cavalry pressing their rear all the way from the river to Coffeeville, killing and wounding many and capturing about 700. Besides this many deserted and are coming in every day.
Word was sent me to-day by a deserter who gave himself up that there were near 2,000 Southern soldiers east of this place, scattered through the country, desirous of coming in if we would send out cavalry to drive out the guerrillas that hove in that direction and make it unsafe for them to venture in this direction.
U. S. GRANT,
P. S.- Send me word what number of men you have river transportation for. I shall adopt the plan of sending a force down the Mississippi. I will send instructions to the commanding officer of the cavalry forces that will necessarily be left behind for their guidance.
HDQRS. THIRTEENTH A. C., DEPT. OF THE TENN.,
Oxford, Miss., December 8, 1862.
Commanding Officer U. S. Cavalry Forces, Friar's Point, Miss.:
By the authority of General-in-Chief of the Army I retain under my command, until otherwise directed, all the forces from General Curtis' command now east of the Mississippi River, or those who recently crossed to co-operate with me on this side.
All the cavalry, one regiment of infantry to be designated by Brigadier-General Hovey, and at least one section of artillery will rendezvous at Friar's Point or Delta, whichever may be the most defensible point and best landing. The infantry and artillery will form the permanent garrison of the post and will protect the stores for the entire command. The senior officer will command the whole and make all reports to these headquarters. All the forces except the cavalry and garrison for Friar's Point will receive instructions from Major-General Sherman.