as to be available. Please inform me whether this report will make it unadvisable in the opinion of the commanding general to begin the work.
J. D. COX,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Third Division.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Nashville, Tenn., April 11, 1864.
Major General J. B. McPHERSON,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee, Huntsville, Ala.:
GENERAL: Yours of April 8 is received. Slocum's assignment to Vicksburg was made at Grant's suggestion. I did name Newton, having in mind his engineering qualities, but General Grant feared Newton might entertain a natural prejudice against the negro element which will hereafter enter so largely into the means of defense to the river. I wish we had a bold, dashing officer to put at Memphis; and as it is, if you say so, I will make an order for you to hold Vicksburg district with one division of white troops and the negroes organized in that region, and Memphis with a brigade of white infantry [Buckland's], division of cavalry [Grierson's], and such negro organizations and white detachments as now belong there or may afterward be assigned; headquarters of the river defenses at Cairo. I want Smith's entire command to come to your right flank for a special reason. I want Mower and his command. He is the boldest young soldier we have. He and Corse, with 5,000 men each, would break through any line you encounter. In your operations in the campaign you will need two such officers as Mower and Corse. Now, though we take substantially the Sixteenth Corps, I know Hurlbut cannot manage them in the field, but he is generally willing to order movements, but personally don't direct them. Therefore, though lawfully the commander of the Sixteenth Corps, we do not need his personal services. I know that you feel embarrassed by him, and I will draft a letter to send you with this, which, if you like, we will send him before making any positive orders.
Veatch's withdrawal from Purdy makes Forrest's escape from the trap in which he caught himself easy and certain, but if you have at Cairo anything that could himself easy and certain, but if you have at Cairo anything that could go up the Tennessee and move inland on Jackson or Paris even, it would disturb Forrest more than anything Hurlbut will do from Memphis. I take it Forrest is now scattered; some of his men on furlough and at mischief stealing horses and recuperating. He may cross over the Tennessee into Kentucky or Tennessee, but I don't care if he does. Should he break the railroad between this and Louisville it would not bother us, for we have vast supplies here, and if he comes over to the neighborhood of Pulaski or Columbia we will give him more than he expects.
As our great problem is to whip Joe Johnston, we want a surplus of our best troops on the line of the Tennessee. When that is done we can give more attention to the Mississippi as against the small bands that threaten it. Surely there is now nothing there that can touch Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez, and it will not be long till Banks, will turn against Mobile, when the Confederates must look to the safety of their own lines of the Alabama.
Give your chief thoughts to the making up your Army of the Tennessee and gathering everything necessary to make the move