War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0335 Chapter XLIV. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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opposed by cavalry. I am concentrating my force of infantry at Morton. Whether the enemy intends to move in force across Pearl River does not yet appear.



General COOPER.

HILLSBOROUGH, MISS., February 9, 1864.

I have kept the War Department informed in regard to the movement of the enemy on the western front of this department. He moved out in heavy force from Vicksburg toward Jackson; also in boats up the Yazoo River. Both columns were met and held in check by the cavalry until developed.

He entered Jackson at 6 p.m. Friday, 5th, and from the most reliable information with a force of from 35,000 to 40,000 infantry, sixty pieces of artillery, and cavalry not known.

He crossed Pearl River at 10 a.m. on 7th with his whole force and moved rapidly upon Morton, destroying all the bridges behind him. He reached Morton last night, and turned toward Mobile to-day. My infantry force in this part of the department consists of Major-General Loring's division, about 6,000, and French's, 1,250, with 1,700 exchanged prisoners imperfectly organized-say 9,000. The rest of the infantry compose the garrison of Mobile. A portion of this, on consultation with General Maury, was withdrawn and ordered to the front, in the hope of making a campaign before it should be needed at Mobile; but the enemy's force proving to a combined attack on Mobile, made it necessary to restore this garrison and avoid giving battle, which, under the circumstances, might have been hazarded. I have therefore ordered the force form Mobile back to that garrison and added other forces to it, so as to strengthen it up to the point deemed necessary by General Maury. These troops, I have no reason to doubt, will reach their destination in due time. I have just returned form an inspection of the defenses of Mobile, and although not completed are yet in fine condition and very efficient. The garrison has six months' supply of subsistence, and is very confident. I shall take immediate steps to increase its stores by the rivers. It is of the highest consequence that its requisitions for ammunition for heavy guns should be supplied at once. I have General Loring's force and the cavalry still in the field, and am not without a prospect of increasing both.



His Excellency President DAVIS.

NEWTON, MISS., February 10, 1864.

(Via Mobile. Received Richmond, 11th.)

I dispatched the President yesterday as to the situation. Since then a dispatch from General Forrest announces two columns of cavalry-one to move on them at Grenada; the other on the corn region in the neighborhood of Columbus.


Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General.