LEBANON Numbers 2., Tallahatchee River, MISS., March 25, 1863.
Brigadier-General ROSS, Commanding DIVISION:
GENERAL: In obedience to orders from Brigadier-General Quinby, communicated to me through your headquarters, the steamers Citizen and Lebanon have been placed in readiness to get under way for Helena to-morrow morning at daylight, and the detail of guards for each steamer ordered and on board.
Will you allow me, general, to suggest that it is hardly prudent to separate this amount of transportation from my brigade at present. I have just returned to my quarters from an interview with Acting Commodore Foster and Captain Walke, senior officers of the naval department of this expedition. I am assured by both of them that unless they receive orders from Admiral Porter, directing them to remain here and wait re-enforcements of additional iron-clads and ammunition, they will weigh anchor for the Mississippi River, via Moon Lake, on the 1st proximo, and quite probably before that date, and they have no expectation of receiving orders to remain. In the event of their departure, I suppose the army will follow. The transports leaving here to-morrow morning cannot make the round trip before the 6th of April under the most favorable circumstances, and some of them will without any doubt put themselves in condition not to return. My command now crowd the transports assigned me, and the sickness in my brigade is fearfully increasing. It would be simply murdering my men to crowd them, as it would be necessary to do should we be ordered away before the return of the boats, and then is it probable that other transports will be sent into this expedition empty, to take the place of these which are expected to return with other troops? It seems to me that every foot of transportation now here should be retained until our situation is better known, or at least until our naval officers receive orders, or decide to remain here without orders.
Nearly two hundred new-made [graves] at Helena contain the bodies of men of my command who were murdered outright by crowding them into dirty, rotten transports, as closely as slaves in the "middle passage. " It was a crime against humanity and Heaven, the packing of our brave soldiers on the White River expedition. You will, therefore, excuse me, general, if I earnestly protest against any probable repetition of such an outrage upon the gallant men who confidently believe that I will do all I can to insure their comfort and safety, without prejudice to the good cause for which they will cheerfully fight.
The company from the Twenty-NINTH Iowa, on the Luella, lost all their arms and clothing by the sinking of that staunch vessel, and one of my best officers, Lieutenant Nash, will doubtless die from injuries received thereby.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CLINTON B. FISK.
HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH DIVISION, Greenwood, MISS., March 25, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded, with the request that it may receive the careful consideration of the general commanding. There is much force and pertinence in the suggestions. It could scarcely fail to result disastrously should we be left without gunboats and transports, as seems not improbable.
L. F. ROSS,