HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY IN NORTH MISSISSIPPI,
Oxford, Miss., October 21, 1863.
Colonel B. S. EWELL,
COLONEL: Unless the Yazoo and Yalabusha Rivers are obstructed before the winter rains set in, the enemy will be able to move up them in light-draught boats and cut off my communications with Canton and even with Grenada.
I am informed by planters living on these streams that they are willing to undertake with their own hands the work of obstructing them by felling trees,&c., so as effectually to prevent navigation if the Government will enter into a contract with them for that purpose.
Shall I take any steps in the matter?
Your obedient servant,
JAS. R. CHALMERS,
Charleston, S. C., October 21, 1863.
Colonel M. H. WRIGHT,
Commanding, Atlanta, Ga.:
COLONEL: In Order to make the works constructed for the defense of Atlanta effective, the timber must be cut down in front of the lines for a distance of, say, 900 to 1,000 cubic yards, and the cutting should be continuous.
The true rule should be to clear away as far as our own guns can command the ground well and no farther, as the ranges of the enemy's artillery are generally greater than ours. the work ought to be commenced at once, as it will require some time to complete it; the forest in front of the batteries to be cleared away first. In all cases have the trees thrown from the lines and the branches that stand up from the felled trees cut off so that they may offer no cover. The stumps ought not to be high.
As to damages for putting up works on private lands and cutting timber, they should be assessed by impartial and intelligent persons.
A good plan (one that we have resorted to in previous cases) is to appoint an officer of good judgment and the local proprietors to select a second, to make the appraisements and report the same to the engineer officer (Captain Grant) for transmission to the Engineer Bureau. That office will have the appraisement examined and make such indorsements thereon as may be thought just and proper, and then forward them to the Attorney-General, whose duty it is by law to examine them, and, if the claims be well founded, to ask Congress to appropriate for their payment. Should the two appraisers fail to agree they must choose a third as umpire. In each case the property damaged should be described with care. I would like to have the indorsements of yourself and Captain Grant on the appraisements before they are forwarded to the Engineer Bureau.
It is not necessary to apply to Richmond concerning the exterior lines. If you have the labor, press them forward at once, particularly on the front. Direct Captain Grant to apply to the Engineer