The Silver Queen is almost at Memphis. I sent instructions to General Logan commanding my old division in Alabama.
TO JOHN A. LOGAN
HeadQuarters, Department of the Tennessee Near Memphis,
January 20, 1864
General John A. Logan. Commanding, 15 Army Corps, via Nashville
I have been to Vicksburg, and am now near Memphis on my return. McPherson and all his command are in fair condition, his new Forts being nearly done. At Memphis I propose to start the Cavalry down from Lagrange to Pontotoc and Meridian, whilst I with some of Hurlbut’s Infantry & McPherson’s command move on the Same point from Vicksburg. I judge this move will have an effect on Joe Johnston in front of Chattanooga as well as doing us a real service here in cutting off the Railroad connection between Mississippi and Alabama. Bishop Polk commands down here, with some good cavalry and Long’s Infantry. He will annoy us doubtless, but will hardly offer us pitched Battle.
I want to be at Meridian by February 8-10, and must be busy in the mean time. I trust to you to keep things moving on that Line. The Railroads should be pushed to completion as rapidly as possible. I will join you in all February via Nashville or I may come across by Savannah.
The Winter has been very severe. Ice ran in heavy masses below Vicksburg, but we have now had some warm Rain & weather and the ice has disappeared, but the River is at least 20 feet lower than it was this time last year.
The River has been little molested by the Guerillas who find it don’t pay, and as the waters rise they know we will go up Yazoo & Red Rivers and punish the Interior for their rascality. On this trip I have not seen or heard of a Guerilla and the Merchant Boats pass up and down with little fear. Abundance of wood has been gathered, and swarms of adventurers are crowding Vicksburg to hire Abandonned Plantations.
The negro soldier idea is nearly exhausted and the popular idea is now to convert them into laborers for the benefit of the hungry Plantation Contractors. Well I am willing the Philanthropists should take the job off our hands and I tell them to go ahead, but I will not divert troops from Military duties to guard local interests. I should like to hear from you privately as well as publicly.
McPherson has reenlisted about 12,000 of his Corps. 1 should like to hear a similar account of the old 15th.
My love to all. Your friend,
W. T. Sherman