General Quinby's DIVISION has arrived, and is now disembarking at Grand Lake. Colonel Bissell is at work cutting the levee near the Arkansas line, and I will know in two or three days whether we can get boats through to Bayou Macon at that point.
The river is rising here slowly. The work of opening Bayou Baxter progresses more slowly than I wish, on account of the great difficulty of getting at it, the low ground being all overflowed. The little propeller Rawlins is in the lake and works well. I can send down several hundred bales of cotton in a few days, and have just sent up to Quinby to send me a good boat for the purpose, as I have none here. I have just received a verbal order from Commodore Graham, coming from a man I don't know, directing me to send down all the steamboats which brought down General Quinby's DIVISION. I do not like to act upon it for the reason that there may be some mistake, and your written orders to me were to keep these boats; then again, if it should be necessary to send troops to General Quinby's assistance, or move his DIVISION, I would have no means of doing it.
I am glad to hear the Indianola went down "game; " the old flag is not dishonored under such circumstances.
I can let the water in here at any time, but think I will wait and see the result above.
I shall do everything in my power to hasten things forward, and Colonel Leggett is pushing matters in the bayou as rapidly as he can. The troops are well and in fine spirits.
JAS. B. McPHERSON.
P. S. -This is written in the boat and in great haste.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, March 5, 1863.
Major General JAMES B. McPHERSON,
Comdg. SEVENTEENTH Army Corps:
GENERAL: Stop Quinby from debarking any more troops where he now is. All transports, no matter what their size, can run into the Pass to Moon Lake, which is about half way from the river to Coldwater. I want your corps to get in there as rapidly as possible, and effect a lodgment at Yazoo City or the most eligible point on Yazoo River from which to operate.
Send Quinby in advance with a good supply of provisions and coal. All transports he may have of over 180 feet in length direct him to unload at Moon Lake and order back to this place.
I will send immediately from here all boats that will answer to go through the Pass, and, should they arrive in time, Quinby can transfer to them where he is, and send back boats as he leaves immediately down here.
Quinby will have general direction in the Pass until you arrive. he may detain Ross' DIVISION, now there, until there are sufficient forces to defend his position. Then I want Ross sent back to Helena to form the garrison of that place, and take Hovey's, which is composed of old and tried troops, whilst the others are raw, and with rather indifferent brigade commanders, I fear.
If you think there is a reasonable prospect of the river making a channel through by either of the routes you are now working upon, you may prosecute it with the force you have left. At all events, clear out