from your present expedition. Whilst I look upon such an expedition as is proposed as of the greatest importance, I regret that any force has to be taken from east of the Mississippi for it.
Your troops will want rest for the purpose of preparing for a spring campaign, and all the veterans should be got off on furlough at the very earliest moment. This latter I would direct even if you have to spare troops to go up Red River.
Unless you go in command of the proposed expedition, I fear any troops you may send with it will be entirely lost from further service in this command. This, however, is not the reason for my suggestion that you be sent; your acquaintance with the country, and otherwise fitness were the reasons. I can give no positive orders that you send no troops up Red River, but what I do want is their speedy return if they do go, and that the minimum number necessary be sent. I have never heard a word from Steele since his department has been placed in the military division. Do not know what he proposes nor the means he has for executing.
The time necessary for communicating between here and Vicksburg being so great, you will have to act in this matter according to your own judgment, simply knowing my views.
Is it possible that Banks will entrust such an expedition to the command of McClernand? I have so little confidence in his ability to command that I would not want the responsibility of entrusting men with him, without positive orders to do so. I send this by special messenger, who will await your return to Vicksburg, and who will bear any letters you may have for me.
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Meridian, Miss., February 18, 1864.
Major General S. A. HURLBUT,
Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps, Marion, Miss:
GENERAL: The general commanding directs me to write you a letter of information and instruction. There is no news since you left excepting that General Chambers' brigade has arrived. Our trains are all right, and no enemy of consequence in that direction. General Crocker is moving in, General Gresham, of his division, having been as far south as Quitman, destroying the road and one long and very important bridge near there. The troops sent west have also been heard from, and the work on that road has likewise been done effectually. Gain all the information you can respecting the road to Union. Look to the safety or repairs, if necessary, of the bridge over Oktibbeha, and be prepared to move on the morning of the 20th. The general commanding will join you tomorrow and move with your column. I send three couriers with by whom you can send any dispatches. If, however, you learn anything of General Sooy Smith, please dispatch other courier with such information.
I am, general, with respect, yours truly,
L. M. DAYTON,