to give to lieutenant-general commanding a report of the condition of the country through which I have passed, also the state of affairs as they exist, with such suggestions as would naturally arise from observation made and a personal knowledge of facts as they exist. From Tupelo to Purdy the country has been laid waste, and unless some effort is made either by the Mobile and Ohio Railroad Company or the Government the people are bound to suffer for food. They have been by the enemy, and by roving bands of deserters and tories stripped of everything; have neither negroes nor stock with which to raise a crop or make a support. What provision they had have been consumed or taken from them, and the major of families are bound to suffer. They are now hauling corn in ow wagons and by hand-cars from Okolona na below to Corinth, and as far north as Purdy, also east west of Corinth, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, but their limited means of transportation will not enable them to submit their families, and my opinion is that the railroad can be easily and speedily repaired, and that any deficiency in iron from Meridian north can be supplied front the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and that a brigade of cavalry with a regiment ot two of infantry placed at Corinth would afford protection to that section, and would be the means of driving out of the country or placing in our army the deserters and tories infesting that region, whose lawless appropriation of provisions, horses, and other property is starving out the defenseless and unprotected citizens of a large scope of country. Repairing and running the railroad would enable the inhabitants to procure provisions from the prairies and would prove an invaluable acquisition in the transportation of supplies and troops from this section. But little can be done in returning of supplies and troops from this section. But little can be done in returning the deserters from our army now in West Tennessee, and collecting and seeding out all person subject to military duty, unless the railroad is rebuilt or repaired, at they will have to be marched through a country already, for want of labor and supplies, insufficient for the subsistence of its own inhabitants. With a conscript post or an established military post at Corinth and the railroad from thence south they could be rapidly forwarded to the army. The wires can also be extended and a telegraph office established. The whole of West Tennessee is overrun by banks and squads of robbers, horse thieves, and deserters, whose depredations and unlawful appropriations of private property are rapidly and effectually depleting the country. The Federal forces at Paducah, Columbus, and Union City are small. There is also a small force at Fort Heiman, on the Tennessee, and Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi River. About 2,000 men of Smith's forces, composed of parts of many regiments, have crossed the Tennessee River at Clinfton and Fort Heiman, and returned to Nashville; four regiments of Illinois cavalry have re-enlisted and have gone home on furlough. The cavalry force at Memphis is therefore small. Numerous reports having reached me of the wagon destruction of property by Colonel Fielding Hurst and his regiment of renegade Tennessee, I order Lieutenant Colonel W. M. Reed to investigate and report upon the same, and herewith transmit you a copy of his report.* Have through it both just and proper to bring these transitions to the notice of the Federal commander at Memphis, and by flag of truce will demand of him the restitution of the money taken
* See Forrest to Buckland, March 22, p. 117.