The Olive Branch had just left Memphis, General Hurlbut's headquarters, where it had been during the previous night. If it had not been for the appearance of the Liberty, I should have attempted a landing at Fort Pillow in the small steamer. If any intimation had been given from the gun-boat, or the shore, I should have landed prevented it.
Coming from New Orleans, and having no knowledge of affairs in that military district, I could not presume that a fort, with uninterrupted water communication above and below, could possible be without a garrison strong enough to hold it for a few hours.
I write hastily and omit, from want of time, to state subsequent occurrences at Fort Columbus and Cairo, except to say that at Fort Columbus, in front of which buford then was demanding a surrender, I stopped, started to ride out to the lines, and met Colonel Lawrence, the commanding officer, coming in from the front to his headquarters. Offered to remain, with the men on board. Colonel Lawrence said he was in good condition to stand any attack; could communicate with General Brayman; had already taken 400 infantry and one battery from the L. M. Kennett, which had just preceded us, and left 600 men, and another, or other batteries, on board, which he did not need. He declined the proffered assistance as not needed, and immediately on arrival at Cairo I reported all the information in my possession to General Brayman, in command, who was about leaving for Columbus.
Captain Thornton, Twelfth Maine Volunteers, a gallant officer, distinguished for his bravery at Ponchatoula, where he was wounded and left in the hands of the enemy, was on board the Olive Branch, and will take this communication to the committee. I respectfully, ask that he may be thoroughly examined as to all the circumstances. I am conscious that a full examination will show that I rather exceeded than neglected my duty.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
G. F. SHEPLEY,
Honorable D. W. GOOCH,
Of Committee on Conduct of the War.
Numbers 19. Report of Brigadier General James C. Veatch, U. S. Army, commanding Fourth Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, of operations March 6-April 7.
HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Athens, Ala., April 8, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel WILLIAM T. CLARK,
I have the honor to herewith transmit General Veatch's report in accordance with the telegraph dispatch of General McPherson. General Veatch reported to me by telegraph from Cairo, and requested me to reply at Metropolis, Ill., and I sent the dispatch dated 27th ultimo. After sending this dispatch, the order of General Sherman,