HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Before Vicksburg, February 28, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
U. S. Army, Commanding Department of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: Still keeping in view the proposed expedition to clear Arkansas and the WEST bank of the Mississippi River of an organized hostile force, I have continued to avail myself of all means of obtaining useful information in that respect. It appears that the force of the enemy on the Arkansas River is disposed somewhat differently from what it was according to my last communication upon this subject.
General Prentiss informs me, under date of the 24th instant, that there is a rebel force of 2,000 at Pine Bluff, 10,000 at Little Rock, of which 4,000 are sick, and I learn otherwise that there is a force of some 1,500 at Post Arkansas. General Prentiss' informant informs him that these troops are very scant of wholesome food, are much dissatisfied and demoralized, and are apprehensive of an attack coming from the Mississippi River. The force I suggested in my previous communication, suddenly thrown upon them, ought to capture or disperse the whole of them. If, in your judgment, the time has arrived for the movement, I would be glad to lead it. In that event, I would like to confer with you in regard to the proportions of infantry, cavalry, and artillery which the movement should combine.
Your obedient servant,
JOHN A. McClernand.
MEMPHIS, TENN., February 28, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel John A. RAWLINS,
Colonel [Joseph D.] Webster reports to me that his railroad repairs will not be completed until some time next week, owing to the high water. The streams are higher than every before known. Wolf River, in front of La Grange, is impassable. General Hamilton, from La Grange, reports a brigade of rebel cavalry at Holly Springs, and states a rumor that cars are running there. As soon as we can cross the Wolf, an expedition is ordered to push down there and destroy the works on the railroad. The Tallahatchee is and had been so high that the railroad bridge cannot be burned. As soon as possible after getting the rolling-stock down over the road, I shall call in all forces above Jackson and post them below, keeping Sullivan's headquarters there, and recall from above Union City to Columbus, strengthen the garrison at Forts Pillow and Hickman, and send a regiment of cavalry to Asboth, at Columbus. The general informed me some time since that he would send up another cavalry regiment; it has not yet reported. I was requested by General Grant, in the last communication received, to forward to General McClernand a battery of Parrotts. I have none within my command except at Corinth, and would nor recommend that they be withdrawn. If such, however, be the order of General Grant, I will send a 20-pounder Parrott battery from Corinth. My other guns are light. Can send one of the hear further from Holly Springs to-day, but not in time for this boat. Rosecrans telegraphs that he is prepared for any movement. It is reported to me that a strong naval force of the rebels is in Yazoo River, and that one or more of their boats is heavily iron-clad. I doubt the full truth, as the last reliable intelligence in January was that their