Fourteenth Miles west of Meridian,
February 12 [?], 1864 - 8.45 p. m.
I am just informed by Major Steede, who is just in from the enemy's left flank, where he has some days, coming via Hillsborough and Meridian road, that he received what he regards as perfectly reliable information that a column of infantry is moving on the De Kalb and Meridian road, and probably one on the Union and Marion road. He reports also that several gentleman who conversed with General Sherman at Jackson and this side of there heard him say that the force moving down the Mobile and Ohio Railroad should have been at Columbus last Sunday.
These facts, taken with General Lee's report that is unable to find any enemy south of Southern Railroad, seem to confirm your opinion that it is the enemy's purpose to concentrate both the column in my front and that moving down the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at Meridian. Major Steede came through from Jackson without seeing or hearing of either Generals Lee or Ferguson.
I will take pleasure, general, in writing and forwarding you the communication as soon as I can get a moment's relief from the important movements now pressing upon me.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. W. LORING,
MERIDIAN, February 12, 1864 - 7.15 p. m.
GENERAL: I have written you fully this p. m. by your staff officer, Lieutenant Mathews. I gave you in that dispatch discretionary orders to move to the rear whenever in your judgment it was expedient, stating to you that it was not my intention with my small force to give the enemy battle. My intention is to fall back on the Tombigbee at Demopolis. Your inclosed dispatch from General Ferguson (1.30 p. m.) is received.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Meridian, February 12, 1864 - 10.30.
GENERAL: I have received yours, covering General Ferguson's, at 4.30, announcing your determination to fall back to Oktibbeha. This, as you will have seen by two dispatches sent you this evening,
meets my approbation.
Referring you to the dispatches alluded to, I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,