HEADQUARTERS FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Corinth, October 16, 1863-5.30 a.m.
Major General S. A. HURLBUT,
Commanding District of Memphis:
GENERAL: It is now reduced to a demonstration that the only force that could possibly threaten Memphis and the railroad west of Grand
Junction is that of Chalmers, which I beat off from Collierville with 500 men, and which Colonel Hatch's cavalry has pushed across the Tallahatchie at Wyatt; therefore you have an excess of men at this time west of Grand Junction.
The enemy has pushed Lee's cavalry to and beyond Tuscumbia, and there is no doubt that the Okolona force, Loring's division, and the released Vicksburg garrison is being shoved around toward Northeast Alabama. I therefore request that on Sunday and Monday you make up a command of about eight regiments, mostly from Memphis (Fuller's brigade), and send them, lightly equipped, to Buzzard Roost, beyond Bear Creek, to communicate with me at Florence. Should I want them they will be in reach; otherwise from that point they can threaten Columbus quite as well as from Grand Junction. The enemy can and will break the railroad, but we should guard the vital points and hold Hatch's cavalry well massed at point on Coldwater, varying every few days, prepared to sally and strike to the south.
I admit I am not satisfied with Hatch's management. I hear of no collision, of no killed. He seems to hover round when he should dash in with the saber and pistol. If we allow Chalmers, with that force, to neutralize your whole command we deserve defeat, for it is bad management and want of caution on our part. As to Memphis, if I could defend Collierville without a heavy gun you can surely protect Memphis with your heavy batteries and the mass of convalescents and citizens who throng the place. Also, on application, Steele would spare you some of your men from that quarter. You must admit I am overtaxing my command, marching them all the way, without a lift from the railroad, and repairing railroad ahead.
I am fully aware that your command is already much reduced, but also that the enemy is much reduced in Mississippi, and that with the river open and available he will make no attempt on it, except by small annoying parties.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
CORINTH, October 16, 1863.
I send you by to-day's mail a letter asking you to place a considerable force near Bear Creek after I have passed on. I merely send this telegraphic notice that you may think over the proposition so as to answer promptly. I call for Fuller's brigade from Memphis.
W. T. SHERMAN,