HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Jackson, December 18, 1863.
Maj. Gen. STEPHEN D. LEE,
GENERAL: I have written to-day to General Johnston, and desire also to address you in regard to the state of affairs here, and urge the importance of sending, if they can be spared, at least two brigades of cavalry up here without delay. I have reliable information that every man that can be spared from Memphis and from the Memphis and Charleston road is being sent up the river to Fort Pillow of to Columbus. Two brigades that were at Eastport, Miss., have gone down the Tennessee to Paducah and around to Columbus, and from thence to Union City. Northern papers of the 9th report a rebel force, from 5,000 to 10,000 strong, as moving on Mayfield and Paducah. Every horse in Memphis has been seized and sent up the river on boats to mount infantry, and a raid is preparing under Grierson to move on me. From present indications Fort Pillow and Union City will be starting-points.
I will have collected here by the 25th at least 1,000 head of cattle, and if wagons are sent can send out 100,000 pounds of bacon.
If you come or send the troops advise me at once, and I will arrange for your crossing the Hatchie at Estenaula, and will have forage provided for the troops and the cattle, and bacon ready to be moved out. My scouts report yesterday the force on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad as follows:
At Corinth two regiments cavalry (500 men), one regiment infantry (white), and two regiments of negroes. At Chewalla three companies cavalry. At Pocahontas two regiments of infantry and one regiment cavalry. At Middleton 400 cavalry and about 400 infantry. Troops from La Grage have gone to Memphis by railroad, except 300 or 400 men.
Forces at other points not known exactly, but are reported as small.
I regard it as of the utmost importance to hold this country. Think if I can have assistance that I shall have 7,000 organized troops in less than thirty days.
The supplies and provisions so much needed by our army are abundant, and ought to be secured.
I hope, general, that circumstances will allow the aid asked for to be sent me without delay. At any rate keep the forces on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad so engaged that they cannot move on me from that quarter.
I am,general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. B. FORREST,
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY BRIGADE, Verona, Miss., December 18, 1863.
Maj. Gen. S. D. LEE,
Commanding Cavalry in Mississippi:
GENERAL: I have the honor herewith to inclose* a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Lowry, of the State troops, to which I invite your attention and action. In explanation I beg leave to state that