War of the Rebellion: Serial 058 Page 0114 Chapter XLIV. KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA.

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inquire into certain seizures here and at Natchez of horses, stores, &c., destined to you from Saint, and to make such orders as would prevent a recurrence. I have already directed a minute report of all the facts by General McPherson, and have received verbal explanation that satisfies me your chief quartermaster (Colonel Holabird) has much exaggerated the facts an indulged in unwarranted crimination. His assertion that he can protect his stores in transitu against the guerrillas, but not against our own officers, is hardly the provide of a quartermaster, however bellicose; but I assure you that both courtesy and a sense of right will cause me to make such orders as will prevent any of your stores being disturbed in transitu, and furthermore, I assure you we will gladly share with you anything we possess. Corn and forage are very scarce now above. There was a partial failure of the corn crop, and the severe winter has closed up all the water channels. I left Cario in floating ice, and it was with infinite difficulty we forced our way through it. Navigation above Memphis is impossible, and below Memphis most difficult. We are compelled to hunt for corn and fodder wherever it can be found, and I doubt if you will receive anything by the river for a month to come. I must return to the army in the field in all [sic] February, but propose to avail myself of the short time allowed me here in the department to strike a blow at Meridan and Demopolis. I think I can do it, an the destruction of the railroad east and west, north and south of Meridian, will close the door of rapid travel and conveyance of stores from Mississippi and the Confederacy east, that will make us all less liable to the incursion of the enemy toward the Mississippi River. In order to raise the necessary force I must strip some of my posts and lines, but the objects aimed at are so important as to justice the risks. I will return to Memphis to-morrow, start a cavalry force down the mobile and Ohio Road, bring down to Vicksburg certain troops now preparing at Memphis, and aim to leave Vicksburg for Jackson, Brandon, and Meridan about the 25th instant, ad hope to be at or near Meridan February 8th or 10th. Now, the sudden movement of troops in this "object" will threaten Mobile. I know not what you are doing in that quarter, but if you could have boats maneuvering about the mouth of Pascagoula and near the passage between Fort Gaines and the main shore about that time, it would up the delusion and prevent the enemy drawing from Mobile a force to strengthen the points aimed at by me. A feint kept up there for a week might be most useful, for if we destroy Meridan and its railroad connection as I did those of Jackson last summer effectually, so as not to admit of repair in six months, Mobile would have no communication to the interior save by the Alabama River, and would to that extent be weakened. You know the Memphis and Charleston Road is either ruined or in our hands, and that the single track from Meridan to Selma is the only link that unites Mississippi to Alabama and Georgia, and will agree with me that its destruction will do more to isolate the State of Mississippi than any single act; therefore I shall attempt it, and think I shall surely succeed if General Polk is not too heavily re-enforced from Mobile and Atlanta. Of course I want to preserve the utmost secrecy, which I can do unless some of the "free press" steal it from some of our clerks, who derive their knowledge from placed in their hands for record. I think this movement, and one similar on Shreveport as soon as the Red River rises, would pretty will settle the main question in the southwest, and I would like nothing better than to