now on their heels, and I hope he will not stop till he has run them far south. I rather suppose the infantry force from Enterprise and Meridian has gone by rail to Chattanooga, and that all the organized cavalry in Mississippi has marched to get into Tennessee to the west cavalry in Mississippi has marched to get into Tennessee to the west of Rosecrans, leaving the guerrillas and irregulars to watch our forces near Vicksburg and along this line.
If it can be ascertained that Meridian and Enterprise are stripped, and Stephen D. Lee's cavalry have mostly gone to Tennessee, it would have a magnificent effect if the division at Natchez and the division from Big Black, with all possible cavalry should march light and with great rapidity, making a junction about Brookhaven or Bahala Station and then push straight for Enterprise.
We know that Bragg is calling for re-enforcements, and that on the supposition that Vicksburg is left purely defensive they will not be expecting such a move. Could we break up good and effectual the railroad about Meridian, it would have a paralyzing effect on all Mississippi and Mobile.
I am satisfied that Stephen D. Lee in person, with some 4,000 mounted men, has gone to Tuscumbia. I hear of Whitfield's brigade being with him, but not a word of Cosby or Jackson. I rather think these are left at Canton, Vernon, &c., to watch Vicksburg. I don't hear of Logan up here either, and suppose he is back of and below Natchez. Chalmers' force that attacked Collierville was evidently composed of militia. There was not a military man along, I know, from their mode of attack. The artillery was handled as bad as possible, not an enfilading shot thrown at the fort or train of cars. It was a big scramble for plunder and bunglingly managed throughout. If Hatch has the force represented to me, and the necessary boldness, he can drive them to the wall.
I would like to have boats watch the Tennessee closely, and come up to Eastport the moment the waters admit. Then, if the occasion calls for it, Hurlbut could spare a large part of his command and throw it forward to Eastport, where they could reach me, or act south toward Columbus, Miss., as the case may require. The rains have set in here, and if they extend to the sources of the Tennessee, that river should be available to us in all November. I repeat my conviction that no reasonable amount of force can except to protect a railroad from Memphis to Tuscumbia. A dozen men can break it any night.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Corinth, Miss., October 14, 1863.
Admiral D. D. PORTER, or
COMMANDING OFFICER, U. S. NAVY,
DEAR ADMIRAL: I suppose you know that I am moving my corps to the Tennessee and farther, according to circumstances. The railroad out of Memphis is now in running order out to Bear Creek, and we may repair it to Tuscumbia, but as a source of supply it is too precarious to depend on.