Wednesday, November 18, 1863

Bridgeport, Alabama

I have been busy sending messages to my far flung command:


Brigadier General G. M. DODGE, 
Commanding Division, Pulaski via Nashville:

Your letter inclosing copy of your order is received. I heartily approve your order, and think it right to make citizens earn good treatment. They can suppress guerrillas. I know it, and on my threat at Florence they brought in a man captured by guerrillas at Gravelly Springs.

Keep your infantry so that you can concentrate, and let your cavalry reach well down to mouth of Elk on both sides. Don’t let the enemy draw any supplies from north of Tennessee.

I have been up to Chattanooga. Their poor horses and mules tell the tale of horrid roads and no forage. I hate to put ours up in that mountain gorge. Two divisions have gone forward, and two more follow to-morrow. I go again to Chattanooga tomorrow, and think many days cannot elapse before we bring on a fight. It is to our interest to act quick, as Longstreet is gone up to East Tennessee.
General Grant says that everything has been done to push the work on the Nashville and Decatur road, but work on railroad moves slowly. Write me fully and frequently, and send me all statistical information, that I may store it away for the future. Your sketch of your route shows Pulaski a good point whence to operate.
I will try and get you some more cavalry from the north.

Yours, truly,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I sent this to General Hurlbut at Memphis:


Major-General HURLBUT, 

Dispatch of 16th received. Do the best you can; don’t scatter along that road to be picked up in detail, but arrange so as to concentrate at Memphis or Eastport. Halleck don’t want Corinth abandoned, but it can supply itself from Eastport or Savannah. More troops are being sent up to Eastport by Halleck that should be well commanded.

If Memphis and Eastport are well held, the enemy will not penetrate much north of the road, but don’t let them pick up any detachment or stores. The Fifteenth Corps is marching to Chattanooga from here.


I have given General Hurlbut explicit orders not to try to protect the railroads in West Tennessee and given my explicit reasons:


Major-General HURLBUT, 

I have your telegraphic report that Forrest has joined Chalmers south of Memphis, and again threatens the road. I wanted to let the road go. It is a nuisance and fulfills no military purpose, but scatters a command along a thin, weak line. I wanted to abandon to Corinth, but General Halleck telegraphs to hold on. I want the stores at Corinth to be so reduced that, in case of necessity, the garrison could move, and also so do dispose matters that the garrison can be supplied from Hamburg.

I want all you can spare up at Eastport or thereabouts, so that when this Chattanooga question is settled, we can collect at or near Florence a respectable force to move southeast. As long as Memphis is well held, and a disposable force kept at Eastport or Corinth, the enemy will not penetrate north of the Memphis railroad, save as a maraud, and we should so dispose matters that they maraud their own people. It is none of our business to protect a people that has sent all its youth, and arms, and horses, and all is of any account to war against us. Forrest may cavort about that country as much as he pleases. Every conscript they now catch will cost a good man to watch.

The cavalry movement in Mississippi was designed by Joe Johnston to delay my march,and he signally failed. I have made my junction, and all you need to do is to protect the interest and property of the United States. The people have done all the harm they can, so let them reap the consequences.

As soon as the Yazoo River rises a little, we will break the Jackson and Grenada road whenever we please. They are tying to save the stock left one the road between Canton and Grenada. The road can fill no real purpose now. They may also molest steamboats, but will not attack fortified points, such as Columbus, Memphis, or Vicksburg.

I don’t want to hear of the loss of any public stores or small detachment of men by trying to save that railroad. It is not worth to us the life of one soldier.

I am, yours,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I sent this note to General McPherson:


Major General JAMES B. McPHERSON, 
Commanding, Vicksburg, &c.:

DEAR GENERAL: The division now here, commanded by John E. Smith, still belongs to your corps, and without your consent I would not take it away.

It is borrowed for an occasion; that attained, I shall try and shape its course so that it reach the theater of your command. Same of Tuttle’s division; that belongs to the Fifteenth Corps, but is now with Hurlbut, and from appearances in a fair way to be broken up and scattered.

All the Fifteenth Corps, John E. Smith included, is now marching hence for Chattanooga, 28 miles, which will make one of the longest and best marches of the war.

Troops fine and healthy, horses and mules ditto, but from here to Chattanooga there is not a blade of grass or corn, and the railroad is unequal to the task of supplying provisions and forage for so large an army.

I have been up to Chattanooga and have seen the enemy’s camps all around it, in confident security. We must disturb that seeming tranquillity, and the quicker the better.

Grant can now ride, and looks cheerful. Thomas the same as of old, any quantity of our old acquaintances, and I observed they were pleased to find a part of the Army of the Tennessee so near at hand.

If you find Hurlbut threatened, and can send boats up the Yazoo, it will have a good effect, but I suppose you feel your force too small for offense.

If Bragg falls back from before Chattanooga, and things assume a better appearance, them I would try and assemble a force near Tuscumbia and try and reach Selma from the north.

I wish you were with me, but confess I feel satisfied that you are at Vicksburg, for I don’t want to fight for that place again.

Truly, yours,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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