him.* Second, a declaration of independence by certain people who are trying to avoid the Southern conscription, and lie out in the swamps. I promised them countenance, and encouraged them to organization for mutual defense.
I am, truly, your friend.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Canton, Miss., February 29, 1864-12.45 p.m.
GENERAL: Lieutenant-Colonel Kerr, commanding cavalry, reports the enemy advancing on him in force, and have opened on his advance with three pieces of artillery. His main force has fallen back on the south side of the creek on the Shoccoe road. I have ordered Brigadier-General Force's brigade and Brigadier-General Maltby's, of the Third Division, moved up to near the intersection of the Shoccoe and Ratliff's Ferry roads. There is a road running across from the road you are on a short distance beyond your headquarters, to the left of our cavalry on the Shoccoe road.
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
Brigadier General J. C. Veatch will move a strong regiment upon the flank road mentioned half a mile to the right of the main road, pushing a strong party in advance as pickets. Let the command get quietly under arms. This dispatch will be forwarded to General Smith for his information and returned here.
S. A. HURLBUT.
February 29, 1864.
GENERAL: Just arrived. Sherman came in last night and left for Natchez, Red River, and New Orleans. Hurlbut and McPherson, with commands at Canton, waiting news of Smith's movements, under orders to remain until 3rd and 4th, unless they hear from Smith sooner. Have sent Hurlbut information of Smith's return. Leave sealed copies of dispatches in case Sherman passes me on river, and go by fast boat to overtake him and deliver originals. I do so thinking you will desire him to have them before he completes arrangements with Banks. Colonel Chamberlain (captured three weeks since at Skipwith's Landing) escaped near Greenwood, on Yazoo, and came in by transport and gunboats, arrived this noon; reports Captain Dent in hands of enemy one day behind him, near Sunflower. Colonel Coates landed at Yazoo City 3 p.m., 28th. Rebel pickets
*See Series I. Vol. XXIV, Part III, p. 888.