HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, April 6, 1864.
Commanding Department of the Tennessee, Huntsville:
GENERAL: The news conveyed by the telegraph that General Veatch has come away from Purdy without waiting the development of which he formed an essential part defeats that scheme, and Forrest again escapes us.
I have no faith in Hurlbut as an officer to give impulse to active operations, and I think it would be well for him to be placed at Cairo, whence he can order and direct, at which he is good.
Slocum will be a good commander for Vicksburg and Natchez, and Buckland for Memphis.
I believe the programme I have laid down for A. J. Smith will produce a good effect, and that we must be content this season to confine operations along the Mississippi to defending the river and its immediate neighborhood, in concert with the gun-boats. I deem two white divisions and all the blacks now on the river adequate to that end.
I prefer that, for the sake of time, the entire command of A. J. Smith, already organized for action and afloat, should no be materially changed. I seem that this may somewhat embarrass you, and any modification you may order at vicksburg that will not result in delay you can make. There is yet time, as it will be fully the 15th instant before the Red River command is out. I have little or no official information of it, other than Kilby Smith's informal report, but have no doubt Smith, in concert with the admiral, is above Alexandria. I have see that there was 7 feet of water on the rapids of Alexandria, which I know to be the only obstruction below Shreveport.
General Banks surely pledged me his word that he would leave New Orleans March 7, and that my troops will not be wanted up the Red River beyond the thirty days after they enter it. That time will expire on the 10th instant, and General Corse will be at the mouth of Red River by that time. He left Cairo with a good bat and two pilots on the 4th instant at 11 a. m.
I have notified you that the War Department authorized me to control our furloughed veterans. I have already, by telegraph, through the governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, ordered all our veterans to rejoin their respective brigades punctually on the expiration of their furloughs, your to approach via Cairo.
I want you to arrange your old Seventeenth Corps in divisions, so that the regiments now up Red River be of the two divisions to come to you at Huntsville. rendezvous the balance of those two divisions at Cairo, sending the regiments thence up the Tennessee as fast as they come to Clifton, whence they can march to where you want them.
Since beginning this letter I have received your letter of April 2. I approve your choice of Huntsville for depot, hospitals, &c. I don't exactly understand that you select Whitesburg or Gunter's as the substitute for Larkin's crossing. I would prefer you in person to see both Whitsburg and Gunter's before we decide. Do you propose to fortify on the east side of the Tennessee at Whitesburg, Gunter's, or Larkin's? the macadamized road to Whitesburg certainly is a strong point in its favor, especially if the bottom is on this side of the river and there be a good hill site on the other.