I spent the day yesterday upon the river and have made the best disposition possible to receive the enemy. The iron battery is almost completed, and by to-day will be in readiness to receive the 9-inch gun and the 32-pounder. Should the former arrive to-day but little delay will be necessary before it is in fighting order. As it is now but four guns could be used at the water battery, viz, three 24 and the 30 pounder Parrott. The guns on the hill would not be effective, as the vital parts of the gun-boats would not be visible. I do not believe the enemy will trust their gun-boats in Red River in its present condition. I infer that the vessels now threatening us are newly built for this service, inasmuch as the same number of boats are reported yesterday at Red River landing as heretofore, namely, five and one at Hog Point. The Atchafalaya and Mississippi are still falling, the former at the uniform rate of 8 inches in twenty-four hours. In this ration it has fallen in all about 4 1/2 or 5 feet. Had the gun-boats kept out of Red River I should by this time have commenced the reconstruction of the bridge preparatory to crossing into Point Coupee. As it is, it will not be expedient to do so until the gun-boats have returned to the Mississippi, which I think they must do in a few days, unless there is a rise in the river.
I send you a pencil note from General Scurry, which contains some valuable information. The Mr. Yeger spoken of I know well, as he was formerly and officer in Hawes' brigade. I think his information can be relied upon implicitly.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. WALKER,
NORTWOOD'S PLANTATION, March 1, 1864.
GENERAL: The various rumors coming from New Orleans and Mississippi in relation [to] Sherman's movements and fate are so utterly unreliable that, although I have felt it my duty [to] report everything of interest I might hear, I have not thought it necessary to trouble you with them. I think now, however, I have sifted them, and shall therefore state the main reports, and then give you what I believe to be true.
There wa a report among the Yankees, and for a day or two believed, that Sherman had been badly whipped, if not captured, somewhere beyond Meridian. By this time this report has exploded. From Confederates I learn that Polk wa crossing the Tombigbee and moving in the direction of Selma, at which point he moved be strongly re-enforced by johnston; that a column had moved out of Mobile and was at State Line. That this last report is true I have no doubt, and I think we can penetrate the intended movements of our forces. If Sherman advances upon Mibile, Polk moves upon his rear while the Mobile troops engage him in front. If he follows Polk to Selma the thing will be done in the same way, as Scott's Tactics say, by inversion. As to the position of the forces my information is from sources entitled to credit - Confederate officers who, so far from exaggerating, are correcting the exaggerated and wild rumors which are afloat, and the great probability that Sherman has placed himself in a position from which he cannot extricate his army is the parent of these rumors of defeat and capture. It is well known that the Federal officers regard him as being in a perilous position, in which he must either capture Mobile immediately or lose