start with your command at an early hour to-morrow, following General Smith's column on the Stockton and Montgomery Stage road and marching with he greatest possible rapidity, without injuring your horses, in order to overtake General Smith. As soon as you have reached his column you will leave the Montgomery road to your left, pushing to the front and right of the infantry columns. The objective point of the main column is Montgomery. While operations against that place are going on you will scour, with such portion of your command as is not needed in the reduction of Montgomery, the country between Tallapoosa and Chattahoochee Rivers as far north as Dadeville and west Point. Opelika must be taken and destroyed at once and the attention of the rebels drawn in a northward direction. You will, however, keep the best mounted portion of your command in reserve behind your extreme right and ready to cross Chattahoochee River at any point below columbus where a crossing can be effected safely and without opposition and,if possible, without the knowledge of the enemy. After having crossed, you will push on with as little delay as possible to Columbus, surprising and capturing it and breaking and the railroad bridges and trestle-work east of Columbus as far as possible. In and around Columbus everything that can be made useful to the enemy will be destroyed. If you consider it prudent and advisable you may, after the successful capture of Columbus, remain and advance on the east bank of the river to West Point, treating that place in the same manner as Columbus. This, however, ought not to be done without a co-operating force on the west bank: It will not be desirable to meet with any opposition of the enemy until West Point and the railroad bridge across Chattahoochee River are in our hands, and if you should anticipate a serious collision not easily overcome before attaining the above results you had better recross the Chattahoochee River at Columbus and descend to West Point on the west bank. Returning from these expeditions, you will destroy the railroad track from Columbus to Opelika and from West Point to Opelika and await the development of the result of the movements of the co-operating columns of General's Steele and Smith. The task assigned to you is very great. A successful result is dependent on the most rigid discipline and the heartiest co-operation of every officer and man. The work can only be achieved by energy, vigilance, valor, and intrepidity. The command must be kept well in hand, and the commanding offices are to be held personally responsible for the maintenance of the strictest order while the destruction of the enemy's lines of communication and his sources of supply is going on. It is most essential to capture and destroy the greatest number of locomotives and rolling-stock, as they are of greater value to the enemy than the track itself. The latter can be repaired, the former never replaced.
Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
P. J. OSTERHAUS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
HDQRS. ARMY AND DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,
Mobile, April 16, 1865.
I will have transportation sent to Pensacola for the detachment of Lucas' command. Please ask General Steele for one of the copies of