fort by land, or the Yazoo River, below it, on the WEST bank; but from the position I hold on the east bank we can easily get to the Tallahatchee below the fort, and also to the Yalabusha. Both banks of the Tallahatchee, about 3 miles below the fort, are several feet above the water, and by means of a pontoon bridge a force could be thrown in the rear of the fort and beyond the reach of its guns.
By crossing the Yalabusha just above its mouth, and following down the Yazoo until we get below the fort, we could cut off the supplies of the garrison, and compel it to come out to fight or surrender. Either of these places will require a pontoon bridge 250 feet long.
Lieutenant Foster commanding gunboat fleet, declares positively that, unless he receive orders to the contrary, he will start for the Mississippi River, via Moon Lake, with his whole fleet on or before the 1st proximo. Should he act on this determination, the land forces would be left here in a very precarious position, with nearly 200 miles of unguarded water communications between them and the Mississippi.
I shall do my best to induce him to leave behind the five light-draught gunboats now in the Tallahatchee, but I scarcely hope to change his determination. Six of out transport are under orders to leave for Helena at daylight to-morrow morning, to bring down the rest of my DIVISION; but since I have learned of the decision of Lieutenant Foster, I do not know that it would be prudent to send them up. It is one of the great evils of our service that the land and naval forces are left, in a great measure, independent of each other. The best concerted plans are liable to fail from this cause.
In the hope that you will soon be here, I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. F. QUINBY,
Major General J. B. McPHERSON,
Commanding SEVENTEENTH Army Corps.
MARCH 26, 1863-9 a. m.
P. S. - I detained the transports this morning until I could have an interview with Lieutenant Foster. This I have had, and he promises, in the event of his leaving the Tallahatchee, not to take with him all his light-draught gunboats, but promises that I shall have a sufficient number of them to keep open my communications. The transports will, therefore, leave immediately.
TALLAHATCHEE RIVER, March 28, 1863.
GENERAL: I wrote you a dispatch on the 25th instant, a copy of which I inclose,* fearing that through the delays and accidents to our mails it may not have reached you.
In the mean time the other two brigades of my DIVISION have not arrived, and a note from Colonel Boomer, of the 19th instant, in which he informs me that no transports had yet reported to him, gives me no reason to expect them for several days. This delay is to be greatly regretted, for the rebels are constantly receiving re-enforcements, adding to and strengthening their works. It is evident that they intend to make a determined at this point. Every move that we make is answered by one from them.
* See p. 407.