HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Vicksburg, November 5, 1863.
Maj. Gen. S. A. HURLBUT,
Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps:
GENERAL: Your favor of the 30th ultimo has just come to hand.*
I will be most happy at all times to assist you, and in fact to do everything in my power to forward and promote the cause which we have at heart, and will, as soon as I can see an opportunity, make a diversion in your favor by threatening the points named. I do not, however, see how I can do anything immediately. The withdrawal of Tuttle's division leaves me with a comparatively small force, including the negro troops, stretched along the river from the vicinity of Lake Providence to Natchez, while opposed to me on the east side of the Big Black are three brigades of rebel cavalry, with at least six pieces of artillery-Whitfield's brigade, headquarters near Vernon; Cosby's brigade, headquarters near Brownsville; Logan's brigade, headquarters near Clinton. These brigades number at least 3,000 effective men, and can be concentrated in a few hours at any one of the points named, while the enemy in addition can concentrate at Canton or Jackson at least 8,000 infantry and artillery before I can possibly strike any one of these points. Hence, you will see the impracticability at present of my threatening any points east of Pearl River.
The troops at Goodrich's Landing, this point, and Natchez are actively engaged constructing the new lines of fortifications, and which are well advanced toward completion. As soon as finished permanent garrisons will be assigned and the balance of my command organized into a movable force, ready to take the offensive or act as circumstances may require.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
CHATTANOOGA, November 5, 1863-9 a.m.
Maj. Gen. A. E. BURNSIDE,
I will endeavor from here to bring the enemy back from your right flank as soon as possible. Should you discover him leaving, you should annoy him all you can with your cavalry, and in fact with all the troops you can bring to bear.
Sherman's advance will be at Bridgeport about Monday next. Whether Thomas makes any demonstration before his arrival will depend on advices of the enemy's movements. With the Nashville and Decatur road built, and full possession of the river, you can be supplied by this line. It will be impossible, however, for a single-track railroad to supply your army and this. I will telegraph immediately to find if rations can be sent up the Cumberland, as you suggest. Mr. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, and Colonel Wilson, of my staff, will leave here on next Monday [the 9th] for Knoxville. Send an escort to Washington to meet them.
U. S. GRANT,
*See Part I, p.790.