Butte-a-LA-Rose is ready for action. On the 16th, a large gunboat from Berwick Bay attempted to pass, loaded with troops. Her decks were swept in ten minutes by our sharpshooters posted on both sides of the river. [H. H.] Sibley reports over 50 of the enemy killed. We could have captured the boat had our men had the means of pursuing her. These means are now rapidly preparing, and I hope before many days to give a good account of the Yankee fleet at Berwick Bay. Accounts from above report the enemy cutting a canal from the river to Lake Providence, thence to the Bayous Macon and Tensas. The object is to pass small transports. I have sent a staff officer to examine and issue necessary orders to counteract these designs. The detachments of Tennesseeans and artillery sent by you, as well as a battalion of Texans en route for Port Hudson, will be sent to your side of the river as soon as the way is clear. I trust, general, you will forgive this hasty scrawl. My only apology is complete physical prostration. For many weeks, I may say, I have been in the saddle day and night, menaced, at different points remote from each other, by a largely superior force. I have been constantly on the move.
To defend Western Louisiana, I have not an effective aggregate today of 4,000 men. Let me know what I can do for you in the way of supplies, and I will cheerfully and promptly respond to the extent of my means.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF MISS. AND E. La., Jackson, February 21, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel S. W. FERGUSON:
Your communication marked "confidential"* has been forwarded to me, and in reply you can say to the person referred to that, should he render the service, I shall have no hesitation in placing his conduct in such a light before the Government as will, I am confident, secure for him a proper acknowledgment. If, after mature consideration, you shall think there is a strong probability of a successful result, I shall, as soon as possper person to take charge, and any additional assistance you my require, inasmuch as it might prove embarrassing for him to continue in his present position. Having great confidence in your judgment and discretion, with these general views I shall leave the whole subject and desirable, that, if successful, there can be no DIVISION of sentiment and feeling.
I am, very respectfully, &c.,
J. C. PEMBERTON.
GRENADA, February 21, 1863.
Carter reports, 20th, 3 o'clock, enemy through main obstructions in Yazoo Pass. Scouting in citizens' dress all through the country. Had skirmish with Forrest yesterday, killing and wounding 6 of our men. Our cavalry has fallen back 6 miles on Swan Lake.
See of February 15, p. 626.