Paducah, Cairo, Columbus, Memphis, Vicksburg and Natchez must be held at all hazards. All weak, isolated points which are exposed must be evacuated. The plan of establishing small posts on the river is bad, and must not be carried out to any extent. The navigation of the river must be kept open by means of the permanent posts above named, a thorough system of scouting parties and patrols, and the assistance of the gun-boats and Marine Brigade. Brigadier General Henry Prince is assigned to the command of the Defenses and District of Columbus (a sub-district of Memphis), which embraces all that portion of Kentucky and Tennessee west of the Tennessee River and north of a line running from the Big Sandy west through Paris to the Obion River, and thence along this to the Mississippi River, and is directed to make his regular reports and returns to your headquarters in Memphis.
Major General H. W. Slocum is assigned to the command of the District of Vicksburg, which extends from the mouth of Arkansas River, on the west side of the Mississippi, and the Tallahatchie River, on the east side, to the Department of the Gulf. He is instructed to keep the attention of the enemy occupied in his district and prevent him from sending any more forces to North Mississippi and Tennessee. You must not understand, however, that you are expressly limited to district lines. If the enemy makes his appearance and you can strike him to advantage do so, and follow him as long as you can make it pay.
You will make your regular reports and returns to the headquarters Sixteenth Army Corps, Major-General Hurlbut commanding.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON
April 20, 1864
Major R. R. TOWNES,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Huntsville, Ala.:
Effective strength of infantry at Woodville and Paint Rock is 209 commissioned officers and 3,704 enlisted men. Effective strength of infantry at Vienna, 17 commissioned officers and 274 enlisted men. Effective strength of infantry at Cottonville is 14 commissioned officers and 262 enlisted men. Effective strength of artillery 7 commissioned officers and 192 enlisted men. Aggregate present, all arms, including sick is 5,155. Aggregate present and absent is 7,621.
The First Iowa Battery, aggregate 152, has been transferred to the Fourth Division since last report.
P. JOS. OSTERHAUS,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
HDQRS. FOURTH DIVISION, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Decatur, April 20, 1864
Commanding Left Wing, Sixteenth Corps, Athens:
GENERAL: A scout sent out last night reports a strong picket force all along Flint toward Somerville, and indications of a new force having arrived in that vicinity. Report of citizens is that