HEADQUARTERS, Fort Pemberton, April 27, 1863.
Lieutenant General J. C. PEMBERTON, Jackson, MISS.:
GENERAL: Very little cotton has been removed from the parapet since the retreat of the enemy. The laborers have been engaged in clearing the timber in front and adding strength to the fortifications. The left flank of the fort is nearly completed and the work well done. Most of the cotton used on the parapet of the left flank having been covered with earth and embedded in mud, had rotted, and was useless for any purpose outside of the fort. Wherever cotton forms the crest or either slope of the parapet, and is exposed to the air and sun, or but slightly covered, it has been and will be removed, and the vacancy filled with earth. There is a quantity of cotton in this situation on the right wing of the fort, and is not more liable to injury than if removed. Prudence dictates that it remains where it is, as it forms an excellent revetment and banquette step; it shall be removed by degrees as the new revetment and banquette is formed. From the number of general officers here without sufficient command, I was properly relieved from my position as commander of the fort and garrison directly after the last retreat of the enemy, and was only reinstated when General Featherston left, who is now in Grenada, but still commanding here, as he informs me, and, his instructions being definite, I have not felt at liberty to depart from them to make any changes in the work as projected, or in the disposition of the troops, unless by orders from General Loring or you.
The river has fallen up to this time about 5 feet, the daily decrease about 3 to 3 1/2 inches. In my opinion, the fort should not be dismantled for at least two weeks without there is a pressing necessity for the guns elsewhere, for should the defenseless condition of the place come to the ears of the enemy, it might induce another attack, and give you much trouble. In a fortnight the accelerated fall of water, the and the disposition they will make of their forces, would render a diversion in this direction very improbable and altogether impracticable. I would respectfully suggest that the raft across the Yazoo River at Greenwood be opened at once, so that communication may be had with Grenada by steamboat. The Yalabusha River, having its source in the interior of the State, frequently from the spring rains affords navigation for small steamboats, while the lower Tallahatchee and the Yazoo, influenced principally by the Mississippi River, are not affected by it.
Permit me also to suggest that so soon as it can be done safely, the raft on the Tallahatchee be partially removed so as to permit a small steamer to make a reconnaissance up that river and the Coldwater. Although mu opinion is that convenience of access below for the transportation of troops and supplies, the difficulty of approach from above in low water, and its natural strength when the river is up will approve the section of Fort Pemberton as a permanent fortification, yet places might be found that would delay, or at least very much annoy, the enemy.
The work of one hundred hands, at low water, in less than a month would place such an amount of timber in the Yazoo Pass as to render it insurmountable, or if no such wood is known in the labyrinthine mazes of the delta between the Yazoo and Mississippi, it would require so much toil, labor, and ingenuity, that abundance of time would be afforded to construct stronger rafts, mount an armament, and man the walls of Fort Pemberton so as to make it impregnable. Six torpedoes