STEAMER PRIMA DONNA,
March 21, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the arrival of the expedition with which I started from Helena, Ark., on the 14th instant, down the Tallahatchee, about 40 miles below the mouth of Coldwater. We should have gone at least 40 miles farther to-day had I not been surprised, at 12 m., by meeting a fleet of transports bringing the DIVISION of General Ross up the river.
It seems that after two unsuccessful attempts by the gunboats to reduce the rebel works just above Greenwood, in which the Chillicothe was quite seriously damaged, it was decided by the commanders of the land and naval forces to abandon the expedition, or rather to defer further operations until more extensive preparations should be made for it.
I immediately had an interview with General Ross, and, after weighing carefully his reasons for making this retrograde movement, deemed it best to order him to return with me to the point he had left above Greenwood. Falling back, after forcing our way thus far, would have a depressing effect upon our army and the country, and raise the hopes and the determination of the rebels.
I also had an interview with Lieutenant-Commander Foster, commanding the gunboat fleet, and induced him to return likewise. We all leave at daylight to-morrow morning, and hope to reach our immediate destination before dark.
After disembarking, I shall send up a sufficient number of transports to bring down the SECOND and THIRD Brigades of this DIVISION. This, of course, will leave me without means of transporting the whole of my command by water, which may, at any moment, become desirable.
I trust, therefore, you will direct the requisite number of transports to move my whole command to be sent to me at the earliest possible moment. In the belief that you will approve my course, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. F. QUINBY,
Major General J. B. McPHERSON,
Commanding SEVENTEENTH Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS YAZOO EXPEDITION,
Tallahatchee River, March 25, 1863-11 p. m.
GENERAL: This expedition reached the position formerly held by the command under Brigadier-General Ross, about 2 miles above Fort Pemberton, on the afternoon of the 23rd instant. At 3 p. m., the same day, I induced Lieutenant-Commander Foster to move down with the Chillicothe and De Kalb to draw the fire of the fort; only three shots were fired from the Chillicothe and none from the De Kalb. The guns of the fort made no response. General Ross and myself, during the firing, were on the right bank of the river, 700 yards from the works, and could distinctly see the guns, but the gunners kept under cover, evidently reserving their fire for a nearer approach of the gunboats. It was raining hard at the time, and continued to do so until noon yesterday, when it cleared up. I deemed it best not to have the troops disembark until to-day. In the mean time I have thoroughly examined both banks of the river to the fort on the WEST, and several miles below it on the east bank. At the present stage of the water it is impracticable to reach the