JACKSON, February 15, 1863.
Received following dispatch from Colonel [R.] McCulloch, near Coffeeville:
My scout just reports that the enemy would reach mouth of cut at Coldwater by this morning. Our gunboat and transport left the mouth of Coldwater this morning for Yazoo City, having given up obstructing the river. In present condition of roads travel very slow. In case I have to fall back, what had I better do in regard to my wagons? Don't you think wagons had better come on this side of Yalabusha?
W. W. LORING.
CONFIDENTIAL.] near GREENVILLE, WASHINGTON COUNTY,
February 15, 1863.
Major J. J. REEVE,
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that I have just returned from an interview, at Greenville, with Captain E. W. Sutherland, U. S. Navy,* held under flag of truce at his request. The ostensible object was to furnish me with a copy of his instructions, which please find inclosed, and to ask if I could of his instructions, which please find inclosed, and to ask if I could not devise some means by which he would be spared the pain and mortification of having to perpetrate such barbarities, which he condemned in the strongest terms. I answered that I should obstruct the navigation of the Mississippi in every possible manner, communicate his instructions to my Government, and, while waiting instructions, retaliate as best I might. He also stated that he had orders to cut the levees at various points, and to burn all houses in the vicinity of places where boats were fired upon. So much for his official business. The real object of his interview, I have no doubt, is to find out whether, if he resigns from the Federal Navy, he can secure any position in our service, or, in fact, what terms he may make. He spoke very freely of his disgust at his present service, and even said, "Should I, by what influence I possess, be allowed to resign, I would not like to remain inactive during the war. " He is the individual who married the widow Harris, of Skipwith's Landing, and I judge, from all that transpired, may be won to our side. Taking into consideration the monetary interests at stake in the South, and the probable influence of his wife, whom he tells me is most intensely true to the South, &c., I think it not impossible to gain him and his vessel, and would respectfully suggest that the trial be made. Could such a gunboat be secured, the supplies for the Abolition army at Vicksburg could be cut off entirely, and numbers of boats destroyed before they discovered it. I have written in great haste, and perhaps not as fully as the subject by his Government, and expressed great uneasiness thought of his having sought this interview with me to-day, saying be would put it on the ground of arrangements about that hospital at Greenville. The subject merits attention, and is respectfully submitted, with a request for instructions.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. FERGUSON,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Detachment.
*Captain Sutherland was not an officer of the U. S. Navy; he was employed by the Quartermaster's Department as an officer of the Ram Fleet.