MERIDIAN, February 1, 1865.
Colonel GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Macon, Ga.:
Wood's corps, with large of cavalry, still near Huntsville; Schofield's command at Clifton, on Tennessee River. Enemy has completed railroad to Decatur from Nashville via Stevenson, and is using every energy to complete the line between these points via Pulaski. He is still moving troops down Mississippi, believed to be A. J. Smith's infantry.
INSPECTION DEPARTMENT, Mississippi, February 1, 1865.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector-General:
GENERAL: I have spent several days in the northwestern portion of this State. The condition of affairs is deplorable. Large numbers of deserters infest the country, robbing friend and foe indiscriminately. The condition of the citizen is pitiable in the extreme. Dismounted Confederate cavalry steal his horses, whilst a dastard foe robs him of food and clothing. Grain cannot be grown and food cannot be purchased. Our cavalry are vigilant and successful in arresting the citizen whose wants compel him to send his bale of cotton of Memphis to procure the food necessary to existence, but fail to molest the professional blockader who makes merchandise of treason. William Crump, sr., and James House, of Marshall County, send with success their trains of cotton to the foe, and import in return luxuries not essential to the public welfare, whilst the former brings back his barrels of whisky to brutalize the soldier already demoralized by straggling from the army or desertion of his country's cause. I am satisfied that not less than 1,000 deserters ten days since could have been found between the picket-lines in this section. General Forrest, with that energy and ability which always characterize his actions, has turned his attention to this evil, and, with the aid of his brother, Colonel Jesse Forrest, has lately arrested and sent to their commands many of these deserters. Lieutenant Johns, the enrolling officer for Marshall County, is very inefficient. He is destitute of that energy and force of character which should marks an officer on such an important outpost as Holly Springs. Many deserters have been for months in this place without molestation from him. Charles Smith, a private of the Thirty-fourth Mississippi Regiment, a brother-in-law of Lieutenant Johns' clerk, notoriously a deserter, has been repeatedly in the conscript office without molestation. This fact can be proven by Hugh Winborne, C. Mason, and Hoppy Thompson, and other citizens of Holly Springs. The books of this office have been so often destroyed by the enemy that I could judge but little from them; enough is left to show their extreme inaccuracy. The total number of exempts for the county is marked at fifteen. The real number is scarcely less than 100. I cannot discover that one man has been added to the regular service by conscription from this county for months past. A large company of reserves has, however, been raised. Conscripts and deserters are daily seen on the streets of the town. The excuse for not arresting them is the absence of a supporting force. Major Hudson, commandant for the State, has within the