too, exhibit results no less gratifying. Our condition for service is good and has reached a culminating point under the defective skeleton organization. My suggestion for improving this by a consolidation of regiments has already been submitted.
No move in force against the enemy's main body had been practicable by reason of want of transportation until within a few days, but we have kept him constantly in alarm by small expeditions against his outposts, in all of which we have been successful. Especially have our cavalry and Partisan Rangers damaged him in the region between Memphis, Grand Junction, and the Tallahatchie River, where several valuable trains and about 100 prisoners have fallen into our hands. All of these expeditions, successful in themselves, have developed the impracticability of any move in force from here against the enemy's present position at and near Corinth. A drought almost unprecedented has left the country, naturally dry, without water sufficient for the inhabitants. The enemy in their strongly-fortified positions, garnished with heavy artillery, rely entirely on wells, as we do here. The forces detached from here to support Vicksburg and Chattanooga, amounting to about 12,000, leaves us less than 40,000 of all arms and conditions with which to face an enemy of not less than 60,000, strongly entrenched. Could I have foreseen the barrier to operations which is now between us a considerable portion of this force would have been thrown into East Tennessee, where successful operations might have been carried on directly into and behind the enemy's lines; but the means of transportation here then rendered such a move slow and tedious. It is unfortunate that our railroad connection across by Meridian and Selma was not sooner opened. With the force which the enemy has sent in that direction he will be enabled, I fear, unless we are strengthened, to force our lines and do us very great damage. Without putting myself purely on the defensive and exposing the whole of Mississippi and South Alabama, no further assistance can be sent from here unless more arms can be furnished. A number of new regiments just passing through the diseases of camp will soon be fit for service if arms can be supplied them.
By the latest advices from Vicksburg it seems the enemy has given up the reduction of that place by water. The cut-off is a failure, and it is now said they are constructing a railroad across the neck of land that we can easily render useless by putting up batteries opposite the termini.
The determined defense of Vicksburg, which I relieved General Van Dorn to make at every hazard and to the last extremity, has been highly creditable to him and to his troops, and has disappointed the enemy and disconcerted his plans. He is suffering much, too, front he frequent and unexpected attacks of our troops in ambush on the bank of the river.
So far the navigation of the Lower Mississippi has not been attended with any beneficent results to them, unless it may be in the sugar regions. Though out of my department, I would suggest the appointment of an active, energetic, and determined commander in that section of Louisiana, who might do much good in preventing illicit traffic and checking the spirit of disloyalty now springing up there. In this connection I would mention that I have recently sent some arms and ammunition to Major-General Hindman, commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department, with which I have no doubt he wild o fine service.
Major-General Price has exhibited to me the authority of the War Department to allow his command, at my direction, to return to the