mated our rear force, but doubtless the enemy will also, and we can use the idea.
I will endeavor to embark here on the 18th, with 20,000, and send in advance ten or twelve good boats, which in addition to those you have, will carry the troops you designate. I will carry about a million of rations, and as much fuel, coal and wood, as can possibly be obtained. I suggest that you keep afloat all provisions and ammunition designed for this expedition. General Steele can easily regulate details; five wagons per regiment will be sufficient, as it is not proposed to operate far from our boats.
I have a letter from Admiral Porter, perfectly satisfactory. I expect him every moment from above, and feel assured we will co-operate most cordially.
General Frank P. Blair is here, and will be with you as soon as this letter. Three of his regiments have already passed down, and two more will be at Helena before the 18th. I have also written to General Curtis a letter that will be telegraphed him from Columbus, telling him everything essential, so that I feel assured you will receive from him full official sanction for all you may do. Indeed, we have every reason to feel satisfied at the hearty and cordial concurrence of all minds in this expedition. Should Generals Grant and Halleck deem the force with which I start insufficient, they can easily re-enforce from the rear in time to take part in case we come to heavy blows.
I take if for granted that Hindman will not expose the west of Arkansas and the Indiana Territory by withdrawing his forces eastward, and I am informed another column is moving from Iron Mountain road toward Little Rock. Your force at Helena will exceed that left with Major-General Hurlbut at Memphis, but I admit you are more exposed there, because Memphis is substantially covered by Grant's army at Oxford.
As soon as I learn that the fleets of boats from above are coming, I will send you ten or twelve good boats, and would like to know if you will need provisions and ammunition to complete the required quantities, viz, thirty days' rations and forage, 200 rounds of small-arm ammunition, and 500 per gun.
Blair brings with him two good field batteries. Can you not give Steele three batteries instead of two?
Thanking you again from the prompt and handsome manner in which you have met all offers, I am, with great respect, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HDQRS. PROVISIONAL BRIGADE, Numbers 1. In the Field, near Humboldt, Ten., December 20, 1862.
At the urgent and recreated solicitations of civilians and officers on board this regular passenger and mail train en route for Columbus, Ky., he undersigned, a staff officer of General Grant's staff, hereby assumes command of all the United States troops on and about this railroad until further orders.
Captain George A. Williams, First U. S. Infantry, will perform the duties of adjutant, and First Lieutenant Henry C. Whittemore, Second Illinois Artillery, the duties of aide-de-camp.
GEORGE P. IHRIE,
Colonel and Additional Aide-de-Camp, Commanding.