HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS,
Helena, December 27, 1862.
GENERAL: If you have a chance to send a dispatch safely through to General Grant I respectfully ask that he may be informed that agreeably to his request I send General Washburn with 2,000 cavalry and four pieces of artillery to Coldwater and with orders to make his way to General Grant if possible; that I have garrisoned Friar's Point with infantry, artillery, and cavalry.
General Washburn found the bottom lands so utterly impassable that he was compelled to return, and when the least rain falls at this season of the year the bottoms are impassable at all points between the Mississippi and Tallahatchie; that every effort has been made to get a communication with Oxford, but it is impossible from the causes stated.
There is no enemy in force this side the Tallahatchie.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
W. A. GORMAN,
Washington, December 27, 1862.
Major General STEPHEN A. HURLBUT, Memphis, Tenn.:
Memphis must be held at all hazards. I have asked General Curtis to re-enforce you. Endeavor to communicate with General Grant; also with gunboats down the river. There are none above.
H. W. HALLECK,
Yazoo River, 8 miles from its mouth, December 27, 1862.
Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: We all arrived at Milliken's Bend, 12 miles above the mouth of the Yazoo, on Christmas eve, in good order and condition. We were detained a little at Helena, but have not been delayed at all from lack of fuel, as I feared we should be. Most of the boats had an abundance, and those which not we supplied while lying at shore for other purposes. I am satisfied that if an order was issued requiring boats in all cases to pay in money for wood there would soon be an abundance of it. Policy requires this without any reference to loyalty or disloyalty. I have examined carefully and am confident I am right.
I am glad to be able to say that notwithstanding the very brief notice given for so large transportation of troops and stores (sixty-seven boats), and the great difficulties in getting coal, the expedition was not delayed beyond a day for lack of transportation, if at all. General Sherman sent out a brigade of General A. J. Smith's division, from Milliken's Bend, some 30 miles and destroyed the Vicksburg and Shreveport Railroad, as also some 1,000 bales of cotton belonging to the Confederate States.
Steele's Morgan's, and M. L. Smith's divisions landed here yesterday and A. J. Smith's to-day, and all are pushing out. Some skirmishing has been going on this afternoon, and the prospect of a severe conflict soon seems decided. We are hopeful and sanguine, but on this point you will no doubt hear fully from General Sherman.