through Wellwood, and publicly stating that I intended to cross the Big Hatchie at the ford near the block-house, I made a rapid march during the night of the 29th of July, gained the bridge, crossed the Big Hatchie at Bolivar at daybreak on the morning of the 30th of July in the rear of the enemy's forces, threw the planks off the bridge, adn stopping in Bolivar only long enough to distribute to my wearied and hungry men a barrel of crackers purchased there, resumed the march toward Middleteon, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. At 12 m. on the 30th of July, in one mile of Middelton and one mile of the water-tank, both fortified, and between the two, I passed the road. The movement was so sudden and unexpected that the Yankees did not fire a gun at us, but scampered to their works for protection. I fired a short trestle and tore down the telegraph wire as I passed, as a memento of our transit, and passed at my leisure on toward Ripley, Miss. The country from the Memphis and Charleston Railroad to Ripley is nearly desolated. Tippah and Tishomingo Counties have suffered much from the savage barbarity of the enemy; scarcely a field is planted on the way I came. More than half the dwelling houses are vacant, and the charred remains of many dwellings attest too clearly the sufferings of the inhabitants.
On the 2nd day of August, instant, I reached Okolona with 600 men. I am now camped at Pikesville, eight miles from Okolona, and have come here to get the arms for my men which Colonel Gorgas, under your order, granted me. I have brought with me about one-half of my own regiment, the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry (partisan rengers), and parts of two new regiments now in progress of formation. The remainder of these regiments I expect will pass the enemy's lines and join me at Okolona; if not, as soon as I arm and equip the men I have with me, I shall return to West Tennessee and not only complete the organization of the two new regiments, but think I will be able to organize about 5,000 men. Indeed, I feel certain that this number can be raised in West Tennessee during the present and next month if I can give assurances that you will arm them. My plan of operations in this: First, to organize a mounted force of suffiecient strength to hold West Tennessee and go where it pleases-say from three to five regiments, making from 2,000 to 3,000 men; then to recruit the old regiments of the Provisional Army by the strict enforcement of the conscript laws in West Tennessee. As we may expect our occupancy of West Tennessee to be contested the force for operations there must have the element of rapid motion-therefore mounted-but at the same time must have the reliability of infantry; therefore it must be composed of cavalry proper, mounted infantry, rifles, and horse artillery.
It will be ipossible to establish camps of instruction in West Tennessee, but a suitable place can be chosen on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, in Mississippi. There are in West Tennessee many stragglers, absentees, and deserters from the Provisional Army. The Government has no transportation there. It is difficult to send them to their commands when they are arrested. Many of them are poor and have no horses. The country is pretty well exhausted of horses by the Yankees and my mounted men. It will not be safe to sent them through the enemy's line afoot. The only alternative left me is to impress horses or mules from the small stock of animals left to mount them. Many of these men are good soldiers. They do not want to return to their old commands, because they have not lost all pride of character, and do not want to be pointed at by their comrades as desertes. They are anxious to join me, and would mount themselves