SECRETARY OF WAR:
The services of Brigadier-General Forrest would no doubt be valuable in that portion of country to which he refers, and in the character of service described. The propriety of detaching him with a portion of his brigade could be better decided after a report from his commanding general. The paper is referred for consideration and reply to him.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION CAVALRY,
Kingston, August 9, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Prompted by the repeated solicitations of numerous friends and acquaintances resident in West Tennessee and North Mississippi, also by a desire to serve my country to the best of my ability wherever those service can be rendered most available and effective, I respectfully lay before you a proposition which, if approved, will seriously if not [entirely] obstruct the navigation of the Mississippi River, and in sixty days procure a large force now inside the enemy's lines, which without this or a similar move cannot be obtained.
The proposition is this: Give me the command of the forces on the Mississippi River from Vicksburg to Cairo, or in other words, all the forces I may collect together and organize between those points, say in North Mississippi, West Tennessee, and those that may join me from Arkansas, Missouri, and Southern Kentucky.
I desire only to take with me about 400 men from my present command, viz: My escort (60), McDonald's battalion (150), and the Second Kentucky Cavalry (250), selected entirely on account of their knowledge of the country in which I propose to operate; in all, say, men and outfit, 400 men, armed with long-range guns, Enfield; four 3-inch rifled Dahlgren or Parrott guns, with eight Numbers 1 horses to each piece and caisson, two wagons for the battery, one pack-mule to every 10 men, and 200 rounds of ammunition for small-arms and artillery.
I would like to have Captain Carnes, now at Chattanooga, in some portion of General Bragg's army, to command the battery, and in case he was detached for the expedition that he be allowed to select his cannoneers, &c.
I have resided on the Mississippi River for over twenty years.
Was for many years engaged in buying and selling negroes, and know the country perfectly from Memphis to Vicksburg on both sides of the river; am also well acquainted with all prominent planters in that region as well as above Memphis. I also have officers in my command and on my staff who have rafted timber out of the bottom, and know every foot ground from Commerce to Vicksburg.
With the force proposed, and my knowledge, of the river bottom as well, also as the knowledge my men have of the country along the river from Vicksburg up, I am confident that we could so move and harass and destroy boats on the river that only flats heavily protected by gun-boats would be able to make the passage.
I ask also authority to organize all troops that can be obtained,