procure subsistence to enable them to raise a good crop this year, and will afford means of transportation sufficient to subsist all the troops that will be likely to be sent into this section of the country. Cherokee is the key of the valley in going from the valley to North Mississippi or West Tennessee; would be a good starting point for any movement into West Tennessee; Middle Tennessee, or to check any movement of the enemy south form Decatur or Huntsville. Cherokee is 61 miles from Decatur, dirt road in good condition; 11 miles from Iuka, and about 8 miles from nearest point on the river.
In summing up advantages that would arise from repairing the railroad to Cherokee, it will not be amiss to note some danger and disadvantages that would have to be overcome need guarded.
Corinth would have to be occupied, and the enemy could land a force at Eastport, 9 miles from Iuka, and cut the road at nay time if not prevented, but this can be prevented by placing a few pieces of rifle cannon of the eight below Eastport, which could sink any boat they have sent there for six months, as their gun-boats are wood.
By preventing these boats from running above Eastport it will check the extensive trade that is transacted between the Yankees and people of North Alabama in cotton, &c.
In order to place the condition of the road and the amount of damage done to it before the lieutenant-general I have sent an officer to Corinth with instructions to minutely inspect the road from that place to Cherokee. He did so, and you will find his report herewith inclose,d which shows the road to be in much better condition than labor, compared with the inestimable benefits and conveniences which would result from its repair.
The road from Cherokee to Tuscumbia, a distance of 18 miles, the track is at least one-half torn up and a great many of the ties burnt; from Tuscumbia to Courtlans, 23 miles, is badly damaged, nearly all of the rails torn up, and burnt need the ties burnt; from Courtland ot Decatur, 22 miles, the road is but very little damaged.
I hope that the general will give this matter due consideration, and will pardon me for intruding my suggestions upon his consideration.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. W. ESTES,
Lieutenant Colonel and Chief Provost-Marshal First Dist. Ala.
OFFICE PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL, Demopolis, April 28, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded to Lieutenant Colonel T. M. Jack, assistant adjutant-general.
J. C. DENIS,
HEADQUARTERS, Demopolis, Ala., April 29, 1864
Respectfully referred to Major Peters, chief quartermaster, for his information and recommendation in the premises.
By command of Lieutenant-General Polk.
THOS. M. JACK,