I can give you 3,000 first-rate cavalry, and if horses come, 4,000 with sufficient artillery.
I suggest that you cross at Tuscumbia and move on Aberdeen or Okolona. My column will join you at either place, or any other you may appoint. I will sustain them by a brigade of infantry to Pontotoc. After junction, move rapidly on Columbus, Miss., destroy railroads, thoroughly, cross to Grenada and sweep everything on that road back to Panola.
This movement, if timed with a dash from McPherson toward Canton, will be eminently successful. Grierson is here ready to go. If you want more force, draw the Seventh and Ninth Illinois Mounted Infantry from Dodge, if he can spare them.
There is plenty of corn in the belt across from Okolona and below; very little above.
S. A. HURLBUT,
HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Vicksburg, Miss., December 19, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Comdg. Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: I inclose herewith copy of a letter which I have received, giving some information in relation to rebel plans, preparations making for carrying them out, &c., There is no doubt the rebels have the gun-boats and rams which the writer describes, as I have information from other sources corroborating it, though I do not think those at Selma and Montgomery are in as great a state of forwardness as he represents. The writer is a young man of about eighteen years of age, has numerous relatives in Washington, as well as in the rebel service. He was a volunteer aide-de-camp on Brigadier-General Shoup's staff during the siege of Vicksburg, and has acted in various capacities in the rebel service, though never sworn in.
His statement that the enemy intend to make an effort to recapture New Orleans I give for what it is worth. The rebel foundries and machine-shops at Selma are large, and being worked to their utmost capacity. They have recently been making 7-inch rifled guns, Brooke pattern, and are also making 6-inch rifled guns of the Brooke and Blakely pattern. Most likely these heavy guns are intended for their rams and gun-boats.
I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
(Copy to Major Generals H. W. Halleck, N. P. Banks, and W. T. Sherman, and Admiral D. D. Porter.)
VICKSBURG, MISS., December 18, 1863.
SIR: During the last twelve months I have been a traveling agent for the Confederate States. While acting in this capacity I have enjoyed abundant opportunities to view the various preparations