Cavalry cannot with present available means be foraged and subsisted with regularity east of the Tombigbee, where their services will probably be greatly needed, whereas WEST of that river, at Okolona, Verona, and other advanced points, it can be done with much regularity and certainty. I have deemed it expedient hitherto to hold the only infantry and light artillery I have at this point for its contingent defense, with the view of throwing them speedily by railroad to Okolona, if needed, or moving up the east bank of the Tombigbee, if Aberdeen were threatened, and to concentrate the cavalry upon them, if practicable, for a final stand.
The line of defense extending from Pontotoc eastward into Alabama, crossing the whole system of -courses and great public highways, is somewhat difficult to occupy, and at the same time concentrate the available forces upon it at any threatened point, and at this time of high water and muddy roads quite impracticable, to which is now added the immediate vicinity of the boundary of my jurisdiction.
In view of all the circumstances, I recommend that District Number 5 should be limited by the western boundary of the First District on the west, on a north and south line passing through New Albany, so that I may be enabled to scout nearer to the enemy's lines and observe his movements, and thus render the withdrawal of Colonel Barteau's regiment from Verona within the boundary of this district unnecessary, and that a portion of the mounted force now being organized there should be retained for local defense.
I also request the commanding general to meet, so far as may be practicable, the recommendations embraced in my letter of the 6th instant.
The accompanying map* will furnish an outline of the district, embracing the proposed line for defensive operations.
The loss of Colonel [W. W.] Faulkner's and other cavalry from my front, on which I had placed considerable reliance, is only compensated by the promise of a new regiment from Mobile, most of whom are probably strangers to this country.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
PANOLA, March 31, 1863.
The enemy reported advancing on Hernando. I have no caps, and but little ammunition. Please order my requisition by telegraph filled. I will have about 850 men to meet the enemy.
JAMES R. CHALMERS.
COLDWATER, March 31, 1863.
A dispatch from Horn Lake Creek this morning at 9 o'clock says the Federals are in sight. The pickets are gradually falling back toward Hernando. They discovered none but cavalry. I will keep you posted.
G. L. BLYTHE,