GENERAL: Inclosed please find copies of communications from General Ross to General Prentiss,*, which were received yesterday. They are sent in order that you may know of the progress of the Yazoo expedition, and of the difficulties and embarrassments it has to encounter, without being discouraged. I confess myself very much annoyed by the unwilling and unaccommodating spirit of the steamboat men in charge of the boats which have been thus far assigned to take my DIVISION forward. Without exception, all have found some serious defects in their respective boats, which render them unfit for the service, and they resort to all sorts of pleas and subterfuges to get out of it.
Of all the boats in which my DIVISION embarked, two only can be used for the expedition. One other (the Brazil) is of the right size, but she leaked badly when we left Memphis, and is now in a still worse condition. It would retard rather than advance our progress to take her, and I have, therefore, ordered her to Memphis for repairs. She will probably be ready for service when Logan's DIVISION arrives. A crack was reported in the boiler of the Anglo-Saxon when she arrived here, which I had examined by the engineer of the Superior, who pronounced her unsafe without repairs, and I accordingly ordered her to Memphis for that purpose. She should be back to-night. The Ed. Walsh and John H. Dickey are both in bad order, and unfit for necessary repairs. With these exceptions, all the boats which brought my DIVISION will start for Lake Providence to-morrow. It seems to me of the utmost consequence that re-enforcements to General Ross should be speedily sent forward, and my determination now is to load what transports there may be at my disposal to-morrow, and start down the Pass to overtake him. He has but about 4,000 troops, and evidently does not apprehend the dangers by which he is surrounded. I shall leave Colonel Boomer behind, to follow with the rest of the DIVISION as soon as he has transportation.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. F. QUINBY,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Seventh DIVISION.
Major General J. B. McPHERSON, comdg. SEVENTEENTH Army Corps.
NEAR MEMPHIS, TENN., March 12, 1863.
GENERAL: We are now loading the few boats we have, and shall be ready to start down the Yazoo pass early to-morrow morning with the headquarters, the pioneer corps, and at least one brigade of this DIVISION. The dispatch boat Winona was sent down to the Yazoo fleet two days since, with instructions to General Ross. She may be back this afternoon, and I shall, of course, be governed by the tenor of the news she may bring. Should she not arrive, however, I shall take the lead with all the troops of my DIVISION that the transports at my disposal can carry.
Trusting that you will approve my course, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. F. QUINBY,
Major-General McPHERSON, Comdg. SEVENTEENTH Army Corps.
* See Ross to Prentiss, March 7, p. 393, and March 8, p. 394