I learned that within a few days 150 wagons loaded with ordnance stores for Kirby Smith had been ferried across at this point to the Louisiana shore, and that beef-cattle in large numbers were constantly being driven across trough his point, as previously reported to General Grant, and pastured between Natchez and the MISSISSIPPI Central Railroad, and that a portion of them were still in the county, a few miles east of me.
By 3 a. m. of the 14th, I succeeded in mounting 200 infantry, from the citizens of the place, and by daylight had expeditions to the country on both sides of the river. The expeditions of this side of the river captured a drove of 5,000 Texas beef-cattle, in excellent order, about 4 miles out of the city. A small guard of rebel cavalry fled at our approach. I have secured the cattle, and am loading them on transports.
The expedition on the Louisiana shore returned at sunset, having captured a lieutenant(with the inclosed order marked A* on his person)and rear guard with a portion of Kirby Smith's ordnance train, which had been delayed 15 miles out on the road to Trinity, bringing back with 312 new Austrian muskets, 203,000 rounds muskets cartridges, and 11 boxes ammunition, and destroying 268,000 rounds of ammunition, which could not be moved. The rest of the train had pressed on beyond our reach.
Kirby Smith is said to be fortifying at Trinity, on the Big Black River, and that a DIVISION of his troops are in that vicinity. I hear of no other force of the enemy in this region.
I detained the transports for General Banks and am loading them with beef-cattle. Two were loaded yesterday, and convoyed down by the gunboat Arizona. I will get 2,000 of the cattle embarked to-morrow. I have sent 100 mounted men a regiment of infantry this morning to Quitman's Landing, 10 miles up the river, to intercept a drove of cattle reported to be crossing at that point.
The store-houses in the city contain large quantities of sugar liable to fall into the hands of the rebel army in case this post is abandoned. I have detailed a commission to inquire into its ownership, and desire instructions as to whether it shall be seized, if it is private property, as it will probably appear at least to be. There is also immense quantity of lumber here, about the disposition of which I desire instructions. Will it be shipped, destroyed, or allowed to remain?
I am disarming the citizens, and will a have large quantity of assorted fire-arms on my hands.
The country about Natchez abounds in fine horses, mules, cattle, and other stock. All the plantations are planted with heavy crops of corn. Old corn is not abundant. Is it not desirable to seize enough artillery horses a least to supply the batteries in the army of Tennessee? If this it done soon, the best stock will be run out of the country, and probably be used against us by the rebel army. I also desire some instructions as to what policy I shall pursue with regard to the negroes. They flock in by thousands(about 1 able bodied man to 6 women and children). I am Feeding about 500, and working the able bodied men among them. I can send you any number encumbered with families. I cannot take care of them. What shall I do with them? They are all anxious to go; they do not know where or what for.
My troops have worked hard-frequently forty-eight hours on duty-and have behaved admirably. Hardly a case of pillaging, or even of disrespectful treatment of a citizen, has occurred, and the people con-