War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0179 Chapter XLIV. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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In organizing and conducting this expedition I have been admirably seconded by my personal staff, viz, Major McCoy and Captains Dayton and Audenried. I hardly know how to reward them substantially, further than to commend them to the favorable notice of our Government.

To Lieutenant-Colonel Bingham, my chief quartermaster, the only member of my general staff that I took from department headquarters, I am greatly indebted. Through him were obtained the steam-boats and means by which these troops were so rapidly assembled and concentrated at great distances promptly on time.

When Colonel Coates makes me the official report of his operations up the Yazoo, I will indorse it according to my judgment at the time.

Accompanying this I send a complete file of orders and letter of instructions issued during the expedition.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General.

Brigadier General JOHN A. RAWLINS,

Chief of Staff.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,

Memphis, January 11, 1864.

Major General S. A. HURLBUT,

Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps:

SIR: The time is now for the execution of a design long contemplated, which must be improved, else we may lose a step in the natural development of events. You know what I refer to, and therefore I need not repeat it. Everything must give way to the execution of our purpose. You will therefore at once organize out of the Sixteenth Army Corps two strong divisions of infantry, at least 5,000 strong each, with proportionate artillery, and one of cavalry of same strength; in all 15,000 men exclusive of the cavalry force recently arrived under General W. Sooy Smith. To enable you to effect this combination, I hereby direct the force at Paducah to be reduced to three companies, Cairo to seven, Columbus to one white and one negro regiment, Memphis to two black and two white regiments. All the Memphis and Charlestown road to be abandoned save so much of it as can be safely held with the remainder of the troops not herein embraced. Abandon Corinth and Fort Pillow absolutely, removing all public property to Cairo or Memphis; also leave all black troops and such of the local Tennessee regiments as can be employed, with minute instructions to the commanders of posts at Paducah, Columbus, Cairo, Memphis, and such others as you judge best to have fixed to organize and arm the loyal citizens for self-defense. Citizens who volunteer to defend their towns, counties, and neighborhoods against the enemy from without or within, should be protected and encouraged in their laudable efforts; and if you will devise a system applicable to West Tennessee and Kentucky and North Mississippi I will ratify and approve it, making it uniform throughout the sphere of this command. Troops held too long in a city like Memphis, or even at a fixed post with barracks, become enervated. I wish, therefore, a general change to take place, and all the men put into camp or bivouac as remote from