honor to add, upon the authority of General Gorman, that on the 11th instant there was a rebel force at Pine Bluff, consisting of 40,000 or 15,000 men of all arms.
If not inconsistent with your plans, I would ask that you would permit me, with a force of 20,000 infantry, including those of that arm here and at Helena, together with proper complements of artillery and cavalry, to move against the enemy at Pine Bluff and capture or disperse him.
Of the aggregate force of 20,000 infantry, 8,230 could be drawn from that portion of the Thirteenth Army Corps here, and 9,541 from that portion of it at Helena; while 3,808 cavalry, or such portion of the same as you might think proper to order, might be drawn from the same places, as also a proper complement of artillery.
The success of the expedition would virtually clear the WEST bank of the Mississippi River of the enemy, and open the way to the extension of the Federal jurisdiction, co-extensive with its rightful limits, and would doubtless meet with the approbation of both the President and General Curtis, who are well pleased with the issue of the late expedition against the Post Arkansas.
Your obedient servant,
JOHN A. McClernand.
BEFORE Vicksburg, February 15, 1863.
Major General John A. McClernand,
Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps:
In answer to your note of this date, suggesting an attack on Pine Bluff, Ark., after reflection, I see but one objection to it. The objection is that all the forces now here to operate with are assigned to looking to the one great object, that of opening the Mississippi, and to take off the number of men suggested would retard progress.
I know the President is looking forward with great anxiety to the completion of the canal across the canal [sic], so as to admit steamers through it. This work requires all the forces here. One DIVISION is already taken from Helena for the Yazoo expedition, and General McPherson's army corps is employed on a work which may prove of vast importance.
On the return to Helena of General Ross, and the brigade sent by you to clear out rebel forces in the neighborhood of Greenville and Cypress Bend, it may be practicable to fit out the requisite force by reducing Helena for the time to a minimum and using one DIVISION from here.
The Yazoo expedition, if not successful, will return about as soon as the brigade sent from here.
U. S. GRANT.
MEMPHIS, TENN., February 16, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Van Dorn is crossing the Tennessee at Lamb's. Bainbridge, Kasson, and Seven-Mile Island. It will take him ten days to cross on flats. I have requested a gunboat sent up. If this is done, Dodge's cavalry, from Corinth, now having on his column, will very seriously damage him.
S. A. HURLBUT.