HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF MEMPHIS,
December 28, 1862.
Brigadier General THOMAS A. DAVIES,
Commanding at Columbus, Ky.:
SIR: I inclose herewith copy of a dispatch just received from Brigadier-General Gorman:*
Unless you have orders from Washington or from Major-General Curtis requiring or authorizing the detention of troops destined for Helena I would advise you to forward them at once. I will not at this distance, and on the vague reports we have, put this advice into the shape of an order.
My best information is that the force which has broken your road did not exceed 3,500, and those mainly cavalry. It is my opinion that Columbus is perfectly defensible with 2,000 men. I am holding Memphis with 2,500, and no advantages of natural position or strong works. Such regiments as are under orders to join me here will report as soon as practicable, as this point has now become the basis of supply.
General Grant is at Holly Springs, with one division at Abbeville, and Quinby is coming in with is division and a wagon train. Forward as soon as practicable the medicine supplies.
I sincerely hope your order for the destruction of the armament at Island Numbers 10 has not been fulfilled. The order is premature. The armament can be destroyed when defense is impossible. If not carried into effect the order will be countermanded and the island held, with instructions not to destroy the armament until capture becomes imminent.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. A. HURLBUT,
COLUMBUS, KY., December 28, 1862.
Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS:
General Halleck telegraphed to me to hold Columbus at all hazards and make no movements of troops till Columbus is perfectly secure. I have barely troops enough, with these you sent me, to secure this object. Van Dorn is in the rear of Fort Earnest by last account; from this I judge he has threatened Memphis and intends to try Fort Earnest; from this fact I think Memphis is in no danger. On consultation with Fisk yesterday I ordered the evacuation of New Madrid, in your command, and destroyed the siege guns and ammunition there, which are of no use to us and of great danger if they fall into the hands of the enemy. The place can be reoccupied at any time by your troops under the exigencies existing. I hope this will meet with your approval. The troops at New Madrid were sent to re-enforce Fort Earnest.
THOS. A. DAVIS,
MEMPHIS, TENN., December 28, 1862.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding, &c., Holly Springs:
I avail myself of the first moment to communicate the accompanying papers.