My troops are in fine condition, hardy and strong, most of them having marched the whole distance from Memphis.
I inclose you a copy of my General Orders, No. 4, made at Iuka.* It is somewhat novel, but on reflection I think both your experience and judgment will sanction it. In times of insurrection and rebellion the army is vested with all the executive power of the nation. In case of riot any sheriff can summon the by-standers and the force of the county, and the U. S. marshal can command the civil force of all the inhabitants of his district. We are vested with similar rightful power.
Memphis and other places in the department are filled with a class of fellows who have avoided the draft and hang about, a nuisance to the army and the country. I merely propose to put them to work. General Hurlbut asked for the power as to Memphis, and I made it general. He assured me that it would enable him in an emergency to man all his guns in Fort Pickering. We, on the march, too, have picked up many and made them teams and do other useful work.
The only question in my mind is as to enrolling their names on our muster-rolls, but that is the only way of accounting for them and providing them food and clothing, which they must have to be useful. As usual, we are infested with a crowd of negroes that I want to throw off as we approach the railroad.
We found all along up Elk horses, hogs, and cattle hid away for Bragg's army. No infantry had ever passed up this valley, and the corn was and still is plentiful, but we made large inroads on all such things.
Lamb's Ferry, near Rogersville, is a favorite place of crossing stock. The enemy has a boat on the other side capable of passing 8 horses at a trip, but we could not reach it.
In a couple days I expect to be in constant communication with your headquarters, when I will be more full and explicit.
With great respect, yours,
W. T. SHERMAN,