HEADQUARTERS, Jackson, MISS., July 18, 1863.
Major General FRED. STEELE, Comdg. Fifteenth Army Corps:
GENERAL: You will take two or more brigades of the Fifteenth Corps and cross Pearl River to the east, and proceed out cautiously as far as Brandon. Take along one or two batteries, and all the cavalry you can gather from your own and General Blair's escorts.
At Brandon, or beyond, destroy a section of the railroad, and then return. Proceed as though you were the advance guard of the whole army, and send me back word of anything worthy of note.
General Welsh, who went up Pearl River to Grant's Mills yesterday, reports everything quiet on that flank. Johnston has doubtless got off by cars all his heavy material and sick, and is doubtless moving his best men by land. There is no strategic point for him till he reaches Meridian and Selma. Pearl River is easily fordable, but you should leave a pioneer company to make a temporary bridge for you return.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN.
GENERAL ORDERS, HDQRS. THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Number 15. near Jackson, July 18, 1863.
Generals Smith, Osterhaus, and Benton will detail each 500 men by regiments, under their commanders, to proceed to tear up and destroy the railroad south of Jackson. They will have their men marched with arms along the track from a point 5 miles out from Jackson southward, and will direct them to turn over the track by the men forming line and seizing ties on one side and bearing it over, then making fores of the ties and placing the rails thereon, after which the line will form, march along, turn over and burn another section, until the road for 10 miles out is destroyed. General Hovey will continue his detail at the same work. General Osterhaus will send his detail after inspection tomorrow.
By order of Major General E. O. C. Ord:
WALTER B. SCATES,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
Vicksburg, MISS., July 18, 1863-12 m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief:
Joe Johnston evacuated Jackson the night of the 16th. He is now in full retreat east. Sherman says most of his army must perish from heat, lack of water, and general discouragement. The army paroled here have, to a great extent, deserted, and are scattered over the country in every direction. Learning that Yazoo City was being fortified, I sent General Herron there. Five guns were captured, many stores and about 300 prisoners. General Ransom was sent to Natchez to stop the crossing of cattle for the eastern army. On arrival he found large numbers had been driven out of the city to be pastured; also that munitions of war had recently been crossed over to wait for Kirby Smith. He mounted about 200 of his men and sent them in both directions. They captured numbers of prisoners and 5,000 head of Texas cattle, 2,000 head of which were sent to General Banks; balance have been and will be brought here. In Louisiana they captured more prisoners; a number of trains loaded with ammunition. Over 2,000,000
34 R R-VOL. XXIV, PT. III