ridden by circuitous routes and reached me without serious opposition; yet I fear his return might be hazardous, and I have ordered Colonel Grierson, Sixth Illinois Cavalry, to escort him back with about 300 select cavalry, and in going and returning to do certain things that will be of advantage to the service. He will show you his instructions.
I have not yet received the instructions via Columbus, referred to in yours of November 6, but am prepared on short notice to do anything you may require.
As yet but one regiment has reported to me, the Thirty-second Wisconsin, Colonel Howe, a strong regiment, of good material, well armed and equipped.
By the reduction of transportation under recent orders, I will have enough wagons for double my force, and since the incursions of Morgan and Kirby Smith into Kentucky and?Stuart's raid into Pennsylvania in which they took horses of private owners, we should no longer hesitate to replenish our stock in the country we operate in, giving owners simple receipt, to be settled for at the conclusion of hostilities, according to the circumstances.
I deem it good policy now to encourage the non-combatant population to trade with Memphis their cotton and corn for such articles of groceries and clothing as they need for their families and servants. Many of them are justly indignant at their own armies and partisans for burning their cotton, by the sales of which alone they can realize the means of purchase of the articles they absolutely need to maintain their suffering families, and I would like some expression of opinion from you on this policy. Of course, a part of these supplies will fall into improper hands, but the time must come when the inhabitants must choose their rulers, and even now I do not fear their choice if protected from their Confederate armies and bandits. Some of them, of course, make loud complaints against our troops burning rails and stealing potatoes, &c., but I tell them pliantly these are the inevitable accompaniments of armies, for which those who provoke war and appealed to it are responsible, and not we. I am satisfied a change of opinion is rapidly growing here, which I endeavor to foster and encourage. On Monday next a Union club will come out in public; will decorate their houses with out flag, and have a public procession, speeches, &c. I will attend, of course, and aid them with every means to produce effect. The advance of your army to La Grange will have an admirable effect.
All my information goes to the belief that the force at Holly Springs is reduced by detachments to the south, so that it no longer theaters West Tennessee. Some farmers just in report Holly Springs evacuated, but I am not satisfied on that point. I have out two good men, who ought to be back in a day or two, whose report I will get through to you by some safe means.
I will keep my force well in hand, but will make a demonstration toward Coldwater to-morrow, &c., to gain information and withdraw attention from you. I do not believe that there is in Arkansas a force to justify the armies of Schofield, Steele, and Hovey (at Helena) remaining quiet, and would advise the latter to threaten Grenada and Yazoo by all means.
I will rapidly organize brigades, and equip all regiments coming to me, and be prepared to act with promptness the moment I learn the part you design me to play. Colonel McDowell, Sixth Iowa, Stuart, Fifty-fifth Illinois, and Buckland, Seventy-second Ohio, are fully competent to take brigades, and I will so dispose of them, unless you send me brigadiers duly commissioned.