belief that an attack would cause its destruction. I should request that the Second Missouri Artillery, Saint Louis, be sent here to man the heavy guns on the forts, now manned by inexperienced infantry, and that gunboats be ordered here at once.
S. A. HURLBUT,
Washington, December 24, 1862.
Major-General CURTIS, Saint Louis, Mo.:
Columbus is reported as in danger of an attack. Re-enforce it with all your available forces. The movement must be prompt.
H. W. HALLECK,
MEMPHIS, December 24, 1862.
Major-General CURTIS, Saint Louis:
GENERAL: You perceive by the date hereof that we drag along slowly. I have succeeded however, in getting an express-boat from General Hurlbut, who is here in command, and will start in half an hour. Grant's line of communication is completely severed and cannot be repaired for weeks. Holly Springs was surrounded by rebel cavalry and surrendered without resistance; over a million rations burned, several hundred bales of cotton destroyed, sutlers' stores, goods on speculation, &c., to a large amount; and 2,000 troops [captured], who were paroled and will arrive here soon (this I learn from General Asboth). this rebel cavalry force then proceeded along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad toward Columbus, Ky., and destroyed the road and stations, and were within 20 miles of Columbus, as I telegraphed you when we passed there. There is a general stampede here; several hundred cavalry hover around the city, threatening to enter. They saucily sent in flag of truce yesterday to reconnoiter position of thins. Great fear among foreign traders and loyal citizens and equally strong hope among rebels prevail, making the excitement intense. General Asboth has command of the fortifications, but his force is entirely inadequate. He has some 10,000 feet of works to defend with 1,000 men, but little artillery, and not one artillerist. From his garrison he furnished the usual guards, patrols, pickets, &c., leaving him very weak. Columbus was left with like inadequate force. This policy is very questionable, and is a matter of such surprise to officers. The moral effect of taking Memphis or Columbus would be disheartening to us, dangerous to our armies in the advance, and inspiriting to our foes; such risks are perilous. These things are outside of my mission, and I only write as of interest to you.
Asboth sends regards to yourself and staff. he showed the major and myself every consideration and went with us to General Hurlbut's headquarters.
The Thirty-sixth Iowa is detained here and the transports also. Your messenger, Lieutenant Dickenson, Bowen's battalion, just arrived in time to go aboard my boat. Hurlbut thinks Sherman left yesterday with his entire expedition. I think not. The news is conflicting on that point and nothing official yet received. he certainly has not received a reply to his dispatch asking troops of you.