strong, pickets Bayou Macon from Lake Providence to point opposite Natchez, and last week they burned every bridge and piece of trestle-work on the railroad from Delhi to Monroe. The reason given was that we were repairing this end of the road, and intended to occupy and use it. Our repairing the road is all a mistake. The rebels are, without doubt, repairing the railroad from Brandon to Jackson, except the railroad bridge, and from Jackson to Canton and above Grenada in the vicinity of Water Valley. It is also reported that they are running cars to Panola. The new fortifications are well advanced, and as soon as they are completed, and I get the balance of Crocker's division here, I hope to be able to make some offensive demonstrations toward Canton, Jackson, &c.
It is reported from various sources that Forrest is organizing a force to operate along the Mississippi River,and that he is getting hold of all the steam-boat men, engineers, mechanics,&c., he can. His intended sphere of operations is not stated, but will probably be above and below Memphis. The Marine Brigade has been up the river in the vicinity of Greenville for a few weeks past, and has been doing good service. On Wednesday a part of the boats dropped down to Goodrich's Landing to the support of Hawkins', who apprehended an attack. His information turned out to be incorrect, as I felt satisfied it would, when he telegraphed me that 16,000 men were marching against him.
I have reason to believe the report originated with some cotton stealers who wanted an expedition sent out, so that they could follow in the wake and steal cotton. There are a great many of these persons scattered along the river under permits, or pretended permits, from the Treasury agencies, who are doing a vast amount of mischief, promoting contraband trade, &c. I am trying to have them arrested and sent out of the department, and I am going to try the effect of a rigid conscription on them, as well as on a class of suspicious characters, Jews and such like, from the North, who are here in the city. I have sent recruiting details to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri, and as far as heard from they are doing well. In making the selections, men were taken who were in the line of promotion, or those who had received commissions, but could not be mustered in because their companies and regiments were below the minimum. They have gone home with a determination to fill up their companies in order to get the promotion which they are entitled to. I have made application for funds and a disbursing officer to pay the bounty to veteran volunteers, and I think a large portion of my command will re-enlist. The feeling is good, and considerable enthusiasm manifested ont he subject.
I have always given explicit instructions to foraging parties to respect the property of loyal citizens, to refrain from all of pillaging, to take nothing but what was required for military purposes, and to give proper receipts in all cases, stating the quantity and value, and the standing of the parties, whether loyal or disloyal. I shall refer Admiral Porter's communication to General Crocker, and have the officer in command of the party on the Volunteer punished. I do not, with my present force, think it advisable to occupy the point on Red River referred to int he admiral's dispatch, accompanied by a sketch.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,