Mobile and Ohio Railroad up to Corinth, and so soon as that is completed will move Forrest's headquarters up there, take possession of the fort, will arm it and establish a post there. It will give me a point form which to afford protection to the Western District, to threaten Memphis and Paducah, and from whence to move on the Tennessee Valley, and so on the flank of any movement from Decatur southward or eastward. I find, too, it can be availed of as a point at which to receive from the Tennessee River, via the military road built by Halleck from Pittsburg Landing, 18 miles, commissary and quarmaster's stores in exchange for cotton under existing contracts. Under the authority of the War Department I am contract for such supplies to be brought in by that route, the cotton in all cases not to be delivered until the goods are first received and in hand.
The receipts under the J. J. Pollard contract, via the Yazoo, and Mississippi River, have begun and promise to be what we could desire. I am pressing the completion of the Central and Great Northern Railroad up to Holly Springs, and the connection across pearl River with the Southern Railroad. In about ten days hope to be able to transport the stores delivered by rail from any point on that road via Jackson eastward. I shall have the railroad southward to the lake shoer completed by the working parties now upon it about the same time. This will greatly facilitate the transportation of arms to the Trans- Mississippi Department, as the best point of crossing the river is about Tunica, as also to receive stores thorough that route should it be expedient. Great difficulty has been experienced, under existing orders from the War Department, in procuring the necessary labor to complete the works for the defense of Mobile, planters being extremely averse to having their hands impressed and being unwilling to hire. I think I have fallen upon a plan, which I am now putting into execution, for obviating the reluctance of planters, and hope soon to have the force necessary. I have found myself compelled to adopt stringent measures for reducing the disorders which I found more or less developed in the department when I took charge of it, and which have been intrusted to the Conscript Bureau, which was charged with the arrest and restoration of deserters. Finding its action too feeble and the evil growing rapidly, I have been obliged to take it in hand, and the measures pursued have had the most salutary effect; large numbers of absentees have returned and are still returning to their commands; of this I will write more fully in a few days.
i have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
DEMOPOLIS, ALA., April 27, 1864.
His Excellency President DAVIS, Richmond, Va.:
The condition of affairs along the western front of my department, originating int he intercourse of our people with the enemy, and developed by illicit trade, exhibiting itself in absenteeism, murder, and robbery, has given me great concern,a nd has been the subject of much reflection. I am fully confined that the cause which oper-
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