by order of General Halleck, to hold Columbus at all hazards and make no movement of troops that would endanger it from any force.
I have not been able to gain any reliable information south of this place, all my scouts having been turned back or arrested until within a few days, say two. This fact has compelled me to act as against a maximum at all points in my command.
With your information I presume you regard (as you say you do) my order to destroy the ammunition at Island Numbers 10 premature. I was well informed of the intentions of the enemy to turn my right and occupy Hickman, which I had evacuated (having only 133 men there for duty), or some other point on the river, haul-to a transport and proceed to Island Numbers 10, probably in the night-time, and take the 71 men which are there for duty, and with the armament and ammunition there close the Mississippi River. This was a risk in the present state of our fleets and gunboats that should not be run, even if there was one chance in fifty that Island Numbers 10 might be surprised and fall an easy prey to 200 men in flats and skiffs.
The thing was in progress of execution, as the steamer Duke was fired into at Hickman, and she was about rounding to when the gunboat New Era hove in sight (having sent her down there anticipating it), and the rebels ran. That armament is not destroyed; it is only rendered useless in case of capture.
The consequences resulting from capture of Island Numbers 10, or New Madrid, in our present state, would almost be fatal, and consequently there should be no risk run where there is no real loss to us. The armament at both these points is of no earthly use to us.
I think you would, with the same information before you, acted as I have done; at least I have done that which my best judgment at the time dictated.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. A. DAVIES,
COLUMBUS, KY., January 1, 1863-2 p.m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
I have received the following order from General Grant:
Forward to Memphis immediately all the forces you have detained at Columbus. The force you had before Forrest's raid is abundant to garrison that place.
I had here, before the raid, 811 men for duty to the entire post. As you have been so very positive in your orders about this place I deem it my duty to report the order to you first, as I can get answer before I could make the arrangements. I can get no reliable information about the position of the enemy, though all agree, from having seen them only in small squads, that they have left. The rivers are all rising. General Grant is at Holly Springs. He has returned to the north bank of the Tallahatchie, General McPherson holding the advance. The Memphis and Grenada road will be running, it is said, to-morrow. General Quinby came into Memphis, with his division and train, for supplies. General Sherman within 12 miles of Vicksburg, and our two construction trains are within 15 miles of each other, and the Ohio bottom and bridge lies between them. Accounts vary so much that it is hard to tell how long it will take to get through. Shall I carry out General Grant's orders?
THOS. A. DAVIES,