WASHINGTON, D. C., November 17, 1863-2.45 p.m.
If you can be supplied by the river, it is not important to keep open the railroad to Memphis. I however cannot advise the giving up of Corinth. I have sent several regiments of cavalry and infantry to Eastport from here, and propose to send more if you require them there. If not, I will send them elsewhere. Do you want more cavalry; and if so, where? I will write more fully.
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, November 17, 1863.
Maj. Gen. W. T. SHERMAN,
GENERAL: Your telegram of yesterday is received and briefly answered. I will add a few remarks to what I have said be telegraph.
The navigation of the Tennessee River is precarious. It can be relied on only in certain winter months. At other times we must rely upon railroad transportation. By giving up Corinth, we give up the control of all these roads of Northern Mississippi and Alabama, and expose the navigation of the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi above Memphis.
I fully agree with you in regard to Eastport, and to sending a force toward Columbus or into Alabama. The policy of holding numerous points with large garrisons for the purpose of protecting the country from rebel raids is not wise. I have always opposed it.
Corinth, except when actually menaced, will not require a large garrison, and most of that can act with the troops at Eastport in any expedition south. Eastport I regard as a temporary, rather than a permanent post, while the importance of Corinth will continue till the enemy is forced to evacuate Mississippi and Northern Alabama. The garrisons at other points on the line to Memphis can be withdrawn if you think it unnecessary to keep open the railroad.
I hope Hurlbut will soon be re-enforced from Arkansas, but this is not certain.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
KELLY'S FERRY, November 17, 1863.
Arrived at Kelly's Ferry and find the boat gone, though I had sent a message in advance for the boat to wait for me. I want John E. Smith's division to start to-morrow, to leave at Bridgeport the sick as camp guard, and all tents and baggage not absolutely necessary, and wagons to load with forage and provisions (roads are as bad as possible, and no wagon should have more than 2,000 weight),