War of the Rebellion: Serial 059 Page 0430 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N.GA. Chapter XLIV.

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Huntsville, Ala., April 20, 1864

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville:

GENERAL: In answer to your letter of the 17th instant with regard to the pontoon train now at Nashville, I have thought the matter over carefully, and although I know and appreciate fully the labor and difficulty of transporting a train of this kind, a still the advantages which we may reasonably expect to derive from having one along I think sufficient to warren us in taking it or at least a portion of it. If the only question involved was that of constructing a bridge across the Coosa I should most certainly decide not to take it, as we are deficient in transportation and it is very difficult to obtain forage for the animals. But we may reasonably expect a determined resistance to our advance on the line of the Coosa, if not before, and it may be all-important to us to have the means at hand of crossing that river quickly and of deceiving the enemy as to the points of crossing. If we have to rely upon getting the materials to construct a bridge of the length required from buildings or from the woods the time required to do this and the noise attending it would develop our plans, and might render our crossing a matter of serious difficulty.

Four hundred feet of the bridge, however, is all we will require. I will send up an officer to bring this much of it down.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.


Huntsville, Ala., April 20, 1864

Major General C. C. WASHBURN,

Memphis, Tenn.,:

GENERAL: In accordance with instructions from Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, you are hereby assigned to the command of all the U. S.forces at and in the vicinity of Memphis.

Brigadier General S. D. Sturgis is ordered down to take command of the cavalry and to move out and attack Forrest wherever he can be found. Direct Brigadier-General Grierson to seize as many horses and mules as may be necessary to mount the cavalry, and to assist in organizing and getting them ready by the time General Sturgis arrives.

Brigadier-General Buckland's brigade of infantry should be ordered to hold itself in readiness to move out with the cavalry.

On the return of the Red River expedition Brigadier-General Mower's division will be stopped at Memphis, and you will make such disposition of it as circumstances require. The remainder of the command,under Brigadier General A. J. Smith, will move as heretofore directed.

As soon as it can possibly be done, a force under Brigadier-General Gresham will be sent up the Tennessee River and will endeavor to co-operate with the force to be sent out from Memphis against Forrest. The great object is to defeat him, if possible, and prevent him from getting off with his plunder. All the force along the Mississippi River must strike at the enemy wherever they can do so to advantage and occupy his attention and keep him busy in that quarter.