The condition of affairs in Mississippi and Louisiana excites continued anxiety, and I am sorry to learn that you have not as full communication from General Pemberton as is desirable. If circumstances permit, a visit from you might be serviceable to the defense of Vicksburg and its approaches. The rise of the river has probably checked any further work on the canal, but it has also opened the line of the Yazoo Pass, and, if it has not been sufficiently obstructed, may enable the enemy to come down the Tallahatchie, and get in rear of our position.
Nothing has been heard of the plan proposed, and which should have been executed before this date, for the recapture of the city of [New Orleans*]. You will have observed the success of the gunboats in passing the batteries at Vicksburg. They will destroy a necessary navigation, unless they can be captured, which may be possible by boarding when they land.
The enemy are leaving the Rappahannock, and may design, from present indications, a change of their line of operations to the south side of James River.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
COLUMBIA, February 19, 1863.
Major E. S. BURFORD,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Cavalry:
MAJOR: I have received information to-day that two regiments of cavalry have reached Franklin, making about 2,000 Federal cavalry at that place, and 4,000 infantry. They are evidently preparing to move on this way, as they are repairing the bridge at Franklin, over Harpeth, and are putting the telegraph in order. If they should move out this way, I think, with General Van Dorn's command and mine to move from here, Colonel Roddey from Chapel Hill, and General Wharton in toward Brentwood, the command can be captured or cut to pieces. I only make these suggestions for your consideration.
I am much in need of some guns. My ordnance officer is now absent. We need 500 or 600, at least, and would be glad, if you know of any that we can get, if you would secure them for me, as I fear my ordnance officer may fail to obtain them.
General Van Dorn's command will commence reaching here to-morrow, having been detained one day by high water. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Douglass' battalion to complete the organization of a regiment, as I am desirous of completing the organizations and having quartermasters and commissaries appointed and bonded before leaving here.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. B. FORREST,
ORDNANCE OFFICE, Chattanooga, Tenn., February 19, 1863.
B. S. EWELL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Chattanooga:
GENERAL: Yours of the 18th ultimo to hand. I now have no serviceable arms on hand, except a few already required. I have
*See Series I, Vol. XV.
41 R R-VOL XXIII, PT II