River up to the Arkansas. If the admiral will agree, I will myself collect at Memphis and Vicksburg about 8,000 men and go up Red River as high as the water will permit, and make them feel their vulnerability.
The whole of the Mississippi from Cairo to the Balize should be in one command. Ought not General Grant's command to be extended accordingly, and give General Banks all of Texas, with, of course, the right of deposit at New Orleans? I do not believe in holding possession of any part of the interior. This requires a vast force, which is rendered harmless to the enemy by its scattered parts. With Columbus, Memphis, Helena, and Vicksburg strongly held, and all other forces prepared to move to any point, we can do something, but in holding the line of the Memphis and Charleston road, inferior points on the Mississippi and the interior of Louisiana a large army is wasted in detachments.
I had a long conversation with General Grant at Nashville on these points, an he agreed I might write to you on the subject. I think I can accomplish all I here indicate, and be back at Huntsville to resume command of the army in the field before the railroads are done, and before General Grant can collect supplies on his base of the Tennessee, prepared for further aggressive movements.
I trust you are satisfied with the measure of relief we carried to Chattanooga and Knoxville.
As ever, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK,
Cairo, Illinois, December 26, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Comdg. Mil. Div. of the Miss., Nashville, Tennessee:
DEAR GENERAL: I was glad to receive yours of the 20th instant, and to hear that I was soon to see my old friend Sherman, whom I esteem as you do. Indeed, we have been so much together and in so many hard places that we look upon him as the property of the navy.
I must make you an apology for not getting the two steamers up to Savannah sooner, but they arrived there in full time. Lieutenant Commander Shirk had been there a week waiting for the troops which had not arrived on the 23d. The two boats arrived at Paducah, and Colonel Hicks did not report it to me by telegraph. Shirk left them there, as he did not get my telegraphic dispatch and did not know that it was intended that he should convoy the boats up, and the people on board told him nothing. It all turned out right. Shirk could have ferried them all over, having four gun-boats with him.
Matters are getting quiet below. I sent a crowd of gun-boats to Red River, and they have driven General Dick Taylor back from the levee. The latter has 12,000 men in and about the country, and twenty-two pieces of artillery, but is in want of ammunition.
General Dick Taylor has just returned from Mobile, where he went to arrange a system of couriers and signal corps. He left Alexandria on September 1 and crossed the river at Bruinsburg on a float with