HDQRS. RIGHT WING, THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Memphis, December 18, 1862.
Colonel JOHN A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Oxford, Miss.:
SIR: Captain H. S. Fitch arrived last night with your dispatches of December 15 and 16. All right. I am now in full receipt of letters from Colonel Parsons, General Allen's agent for chartering boats, who assures me plenty of boats will be here to-day. I am promised the names of some sixty boats. I have some fifteen here now loading, and have at helena about ten, and am momentarily looking for the whole fleet. As soon as they arrive I will be aboard and off for Helena.
Admiral Porter is just in from above, having been detained four days by low water, but his letters are all we could ask. I am also informed that there is a rise in the water above, so that the fleet of boats ought not to be longer delayed. Every possible preparation has been made, so that no moment should be lost. If the fleet comes to-day all shall be on board to-morrow, and I hope to be at Helena the 20th and at Milliken's Bend, where we shall first begin to act, by the 23rd or 24th. Nothing is wanting but the boats, and I feel every assurance they will be here to-day. I was all ready, so that even the loss of the one day must not be charged to me. Generals Gorman and Steele both write me most satisfactorily from Helena, and indeed we must admit they have fulfilled their parts handsomely. I give Steele full command of the division at Helena, which, by the addition of Blair's brigade, part of which (three regiments) have passed and two more reported near at hand, will reach near 13,000 men, so that I hope to have 33,000 men. Such a force operating at vicksburg in concert with the gunboats will make something yield and prepare your way. You will have heard that our ironclad gunboat Cairo was sunk in the Yazoo by the explosion of one of the infernal machines.
The weather is fine, and I repeat that I only await the fleet of gunboats to be off.
W. T. SHERMAN,
OXFORD, MISS., December 18, 1862.
Admiral PORTER, CAIRO, Ill.:
I am informed there is now four feet of water in the Tennessee. Gunboats there would be of immense value.
Forrest and Napier are now on this side of the river with from 5,000 to 10,000 men and have got near to Jackson.
I hope my force will be able to drive to the river. I have been concentrating troops all day to meet them.
U. S. GRANT,
CAIRO, December 18, 1862.
Five light-draught gunboats left Ohio River for Tennessee River on 15th instant. They draw about 3 feet and have orders to go up with the rise. They are only musket-proof.
A. M. PENNOCK,
Fleet Captain and Commandant of Station.