Sixth Tennessee, and Seventh Indiana are the only organized regiments remaining, of which the Fourth Missouri is the only one reliable for serious action. The rest of the command is of detachments of non-veterans, and not near enough horses to mount these. I have sent heretofore statements of the infantry.
If General Washburn attempts the movement he contemplates with the force I left in Memphis, and conducts it as he has conducted his previous command, he will probably lose Memphis. If he is sufficiently re-enforced and the command led by an officer of experience and knowledge, it may do something that will be creditable. It is my plain duty to notify you, from my knowledge of that country, that any serious disaster to the covering force at Memphis will result in the loss of the city, and that a movement of infantry from the garrison 60 or 70 miles into the country will expose them to the danger of move by the enemy's mounted men, under cover of the Wolf, or Hatchie, or Coldwater, upon the reduced garrison. I may overestimate the danger, but my personal record leads me to feel sure that I shall not be charged with personal timidity. I therefore affirm as my deliberate opinion that no movement should be made to bring Forrest to action with less than 5,000 good men, and that it is infinitely better and safer to wait the return of the veteran cavalry, now past due. I do not believe that Banks can or will permit A. J. Smith's command to return without imperiling his expedition, for they are the life of his force.
I shall remain here and wait events with philosophic resignation, and in order to carry on the business of the corps have ordered my headquarters here, "possession my soul" with patience until the Government make up their minds whether they want my services or not.
I am, colonel, your obedient servant,
S. A. HURLBUT,
Major-General, Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps.
ON BOARD THE DISPATCH-BOAT FOR COLUMBUS,
April 27, 1864. (Received 30th.)
GENERAL: I mailed a letter to you this morning, and have not a copy with me, having left my baggage at Cairo. Being on my way down to inspect Columbus I find Colonel --- on board going immediately to Memphis, and I will endeavor to give the substance of my letter by him because you will get it sooner, I suppose.
I have the honor to report to you per orders in pursuance of Special Orders, No. 35, of Major-General Sherman.
On arriving at Cairo yesterday I found a letter from Major-General McPherson, dated 20th, which does not in describing my district mention Cairo as in it, and hence, to my surprise, it is thought by the present commander of the district that a new district has been made. This is the opinion of Major-General Hurlbut also, who is on duty here. General Brayman doubted if I was entitled to any of the books of the district headquarters, on account of my district being, in their opinion, different from [what] it has been up to this time, but he had, I believe, concluded to let me have some of them. The department staff in the district I perceive it is his intention to refuse.