started by some cotton speculators who wanted an expedition sent out, that they might follow in the wake and steal cotton.
There are a great many of these cotton sharks along the river, and I am trying to have them arrested and sent out of the department.
Osband found them at Skipwith's Landing when he reached there, and an extensive contraband trade going on. The fact is, these extensive permits from the Treasury Department agencies to gather abandoned cotton, &c., open wide the door to fraud and speculation, and I must confess I am at a loss to know to stop it. Orders do not reach the case, for it is next to impossible to get hold of the parties. How they manage to get down the river I cannot understand. I am going to try the effect of a rigid conscription.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Vicksburg, November 22, 1863.
Maj. General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Department and Army of the Tennessee:
DEAR GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th instant, from Fayetteville, and your telegram of the 12th, from Winchester, Tennessee Since the date of my last letter nothing material has occurred.
Two brigades of Crocker's division ar still at Natchez, with two regiments of colored troops. One brigade here with Leggett's (late Logan's) and McArthur's divisions, Winslow's cavalry, and five regiments of colored troops, occupying this place and the country between here and the Big Black. Major Osband is at Skipwith's Landing, with one battalion Fourth Illinois Cavalry, and about 300 negroes, whom he has enlisted for a cavalry regiment. General Hawkins is at Goodrich's Landing, with three colored regiments and one at Milliken's Bend.
The day after the arrival of Colonel Hall's brigade, Crocker's division, at this place, word was brought in by scouts, &c., that a large force of cavalry had gone south, with a view possibly of making a raid on Natchez and destroying the property of loyal citizens in Wilkinson and adjoining counties. In consequence of this information I directed Crocker not to move any more troops up from Natchez until the plans of the enemy could be ascertained. It turns out that a part of Logan's cavalry went down; and Crocker writes me that there is a report that quite a force of the enemy is to be concentrated at Tunica Bend, made up from Logan's cavalry and some of Kirby Smith's forces, with a view of closing the Mississippi River. This point is in the Department of the Gulf. The officers of the gun-boats in that vicinity have been notified.
Cosby and Whitfield occupy about the same position they did when you left; and I understand Starke's brigade is between Canton and Grenada. Loring's division (three brigades infantry) at Canton. A few days since there were two brigades infantry at Brandon, Ector's and some other, both of which were in the Chickamauga battle, and left on the following Thursday for Meridian, whence they came to Brandon. Harrison, with his cavalry, about 1,500