The Government having adopted the policy of leasing out the abandoned plantations and giving employment to the freedmen, you will of course extend to them such protection as you can; but you will have to look at the matter from a military point of view and keep your force well in hand for defensive as well as offensive purpose; the holding of Vicksburg and Natchez and keeping the navigation of the river unobstructed being paramount to every other consideration. The plan of establishing small isolated posts along the river is bad, and should not be carried out to any extent.
A few posts well located, with strong defensive works to enable the garrison to hold out against a greatly superior force until re-enforcements can be sent them, with active scouting parties and patrols, is all that can be done by the land forces, and the gun-boats and Marine Brigade must do the balance by patrolling the river.
When your force is increased by the return of veteran regiments and recruits so that the circumstances of the case will warrant it, a post at Yazoo City will most effectually cover the country between the Yazoo River and the Mississippi. The force sent up there must be strong and amply sufficient to take care of itself. Of this you must be the judge.
We have now held Vicksburg ten months, and there are many people in the city doing business under the protection of the military authorities. It is but right and proper that they should be ready and willing to assist in defending their property in case of emergency. To this end you will cause all the men capable of bearing arms to be enrolled and organized into home guard companies. To these companies, when organized, you can direct the issue of arms, accouterments, caps, and blouses, in order to give them a uniform appearance, and they should be required to drill at least twice a week. Select a building or buildings conveniently located for armories and drill-rooms for them, and notify all concerned that unless they enter into this matter promptly and willingly they will be required to close their business and leave the district.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Huntsville, Ala., April 19, 1864. (Received 21st.)
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville:
GENERAL: I send by Lieutenant-Colonel Macfeely letters of instruction to Major-General Hurlbut, Major-General Slocum, and Brigadier-General Brayman, based on the telegraph letter of instructions from Lieutenant-General Grant.
Will you please read and forward them if they do not contravene any orders you may have issued. They were written before the receipt of your telegram suggesting the propriety of ordering Major-General Hurlbut to the field, headquarters at Decatur. I have been a good deal in the dark in relation to the orders and instructions which have been issued to General Hurlbut and General Brayman.
I did not know that Fort Pillow was garrisoned, and the last return in this office gives no such post. I knew that it was garrisoned by our troops at one time (the Fifty-second Indiana being stationed
27 R R-VOL XXXII, PT III