could pass the river at that place. It as probable that burden that burden cars of small dimensions could be run occasionally by horse-power north of Panola, and probably the Mobile and Ohio Road could run similar cars north of Okolona with or without repairs of road track. This company runs regular trains as far north as Water Valley, and have been for some time running small cars drawn by mules between Holly Springs and Oxford, and brought out a considerable amount of public property. Between Oxford and Water Valley there has been no communication except by road wagons, the distance being 20 miles.
An expenditure of a few thousand dollars would render would render the railroad track safe for small burden cars between Oxford and Water Valley or Abbeville, on the south bank of the Tallahatchee, and some $25,000 or $30,000 expenditure would be required to put the track in good order for engines to run to Abbeville, and $50,000 to put it in order to Holly Springs. If repaired to Abbeville, so as to run the mule cars, a large amount of grain could be brought out at a small expense, and a large amount of wheat saved that otherwise may not be. One mule with these cars will do the work of twenty on a common road.
If these repairs are to be made on this road, it must be done at the expense of the Government. The company are unwilling to do it at its own cost. It would not be a source of profit or any benefit to it, while to the Government it might be of great benefit. Should it be deemed advisable to attempt the repairs, the company will render every possible assistance except paying the expenses.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
BENTON, May 31, 1863-9. 30 a. m.
General JOSEPH E. Johnston, Canton, MISS.:
GENERAL: I arrived here at 9 a. m. I expected a dispatch here when I arrived, but have none. I send you all the information I have. From the lights before me (and now before you), I shall proceed to Yazoo City and plant the guns. I sent a courier last night to Mechanicsburg to General [John] Adams, to direct him to send Henderson's scouts on the Yazoo River road, and also directed him to send some of them to me, so that I could use them. It is necessary that I should get information myself. This River Valley road I have always regarded as the most important route for the enemy, and it has never been scouted, that I know of. I requested Captain [John B.] Vinet, as soon as he arrived in Yazoo, to send a courier down the Yazoo Valley road, so that I could have reliable information whether the enemy was on the road, either on my march to Yazoo, or when I arrived there. If the enemy were advancing on Benton by Mechanicsburg, I would this position for a day or two, until I felt him, and would not throw myself between the Wire road and the river road whilst a doubt existed whether there was a column on the Wire road; for should the report of Loring's scout, mentioned in the communication to me, be correct, that there were two DIVISIONS on each road, I would have been liable to be attacked both in front and rear by a force twice as large as my own. I place very little reliance in the number of the force reported by this scout, and when the reports you get from other scouts are considered (which I inclose),* the probabilities all are that there is no such large force as mentioned
* Inclosures not found.