of my posts and lines, but the objects aimed at are so important as to justify the risk. I will return to Memphis to-morrow, start a cavalry force down the Mobile and Ohio Road, bring down to Vicksburg certain troops now preparing at Memphis, and aim to leave Vicksburg for Jackson, Brandon, and Meridian about the 25th instant, and hope to be at or near Meridian February 8-10. Now the sudden movement of troops in this "object" will threaten Mobile.
I know not what you are doing in that quarter, but if you could have boats maneuvering about the mouth of Pascagoula and near the passage between Fort Gaines and the main shore about that time, it would keep up the delusion and prevent the enemy drawing from Mobile a force to strengthen the points aimed at by me. A feint kept up there for a week might be most useful, for if we destroy Meridian and its railroad connections, as I did those of Jackson last summer, effectually, so as not to admit of repair in six months, Mobile would have no communication to the interior save by the Alabama River, and would to that extent be weakened. You know that the Memphis and Charleston Road is either ruined or in our hands, and that the single track from Meridian to Selma is the only link that unites Mississippi to Alabama and Georgia, and will agree with me that its destruction will do more to isolate the State of Mississippi than any single act; therefore I shall attempt it and think I shall surely succeed if General Polk is not too heavily re enforced from Mobile and Atlanta. Of course I want to preserve the utmost secrecy, which I can do unless the "free press" steal it from some of our clears, who derive their knowledge from letters placed in their hands for record.
I think this movement and one similar on Shreveport, as soon as the Red River rises, would pretty well settle the main question in the Southwest, and I would like nothing better than to unite with you in such a movement, but I expect soon to be required by General Grant to hasten back to Huntsville, where I left the Army of the Tennessee. In this department I pay but little attention to guerrillas. They have never attacked any place of note, and are chiefly engaged in harassing their own people, who merit little at our hands. These will in time beg us to save them from their own irregular soldiery, and even then it will be well to let them continue to suffer the protection of Jeff. Davis-the protection the wolf gives the lamb.
Inasmuch as I must be absent from the department a good deal of my time, I beg you will correspond directly with General McPerson, who has my entire confidence, and whom I clothe with all my power in this part of my command. I left General Grant about Christmas at Nashville, but he was about starting for Knoxville. He seems to think that Lee, in Virginia, may push the repairs of the Virginia Valley Railroad down to Longstreet, re-enforce him, and make East Tennessee the scene of the next great battle. I left my own troops busy patching up the railroad from Nashville to Decatur, and from Decatur to Stevenson, with a view to complete the circuit, so that stores could be accumulated along the line of the Tennessee, the base of operations for the next grand campaign. I should like much to hear from you as early as the 24th, by which time I hope to be here again.
Your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,