contingency and a guard at Big Black and at Haynes' Bluff, and to enable you to do this you can abandon the posts at Skipwith's and Goodrich's. In the present condition of water I do not think the danger of molestation to boats at those points enough to warrant the force now there. On passing Skirwith's I will see Captain Owen, of the navy, and ask him to send you a light-draught gun-boat to go to Haynes' Bluff, and I wish you to send her up with a couple of transports carrying a couple of regiments to reconnoiter the Yazoo above yazoo City, and to obtain forage on the Sunflower or no the Yazoo. If the Yazoo be found in a fair stage I will, at the same time with our movement island, make a feint up that river, it may be, as high as Greenwood. Knowing the objects of the movement, I will rely on your making all the preparations possible between this and the 25th instant, by which time you may expect my return.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
[Inclosure Numbers 3.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Memphis, January 27, 1864.
Brigadier General WILLIAM SOOY SMITH,
Commanding Cavalry, &c., present:
DEAR GENERAL: By an order issued this day I have placed all the cavalry of this department subject to your command. I estimate you can make a force of full 7,000 men, which I believe to be superior and better in all respects than the combined cavalry which the enemy has in all the State of Mississippi. I will in person start for Vicksburg to-day, and with four divisions of infantry, artillery, and cavalry move our for Jackson, Brandon, and Meridian, aiming to reach the latter place by February 10. General Banks will feign on Pascagoula, and General Logan on Rome. I want you with your cavalry to move from Collierville on Pontotoc and Okolona; thence sweeping down near the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, disable that road as much as possible, consume or destroy the resources of the enemy along that road, break up the connection with Columbus, Miss., and finally reachme at or near Meridian as near the date I have mentioned as possible. This will call for great energy of action on your part, but I believe you are equal to it, and you have the best and most experienced troops in the service, and they will do anything that is possible. General Grierson is with you, and is familiar with the whole country. I will send up from Haynes' Bluff an expedition of gun-boats and transports coined to feel up the Yazoo as far as the present stage of water will permit. This will disconcert the enemy. My movement on Jackson will also divide the enemy, so that by no combination can he reach you with but a part of his force. I wish you to attack any force of cavalry you meet and follow them southward, but in no event drawn into the forks of the streams that make up the Yazoo nor over into Alabama. Do not let the enemy draw you into minor affairs, but look solely to the greater object, to destroy his communication from Okolona to Meridian and thence eastward to Selma. From Okolona south you will find abundance of forage collected along the railroad, and the farms have standing corn in the fields. Take liberally of all these, as well as horses, mules, cattle, &c. As a rule respect dwellings and families as something too