We begin our return to the Mississippi today. I will move with Hurlbut today, first to the North in hopes of making contact with Sooy Smith. McPherson is to march back to Vicksburg at an easy pace with the following orders:
The object of the recent expeditions having been completely and successfully accomplished in driving the enemy [except small bodies of cavalry] out of the State of Mississippi, and thoroughly breaking up the interior railroad communications, the troops are about to return to the Mississippi River. Although there is no great force of the enemy in our immediate vicinity, and probably will not be on our line of march, still small parties of the enemy’s cavalry will be hovering on our flanks and rear, rendering it necessary to preserve all proper caution to guard against surprise. Division, brigade, and regimental commanders will exert themselves to prevent straggling, and will see that their commands are well closed up and the men in ranks on the march. The marches will be short each day, and there will be no necessity for men falling behind. Foraging parties will not be sent out, except under a strong escort, and the commanding general trusts that no pillaging, burning, or wanton destruction of private property will mark our course, but that our march will be orderly and systematic, creditable to you as soldiers, and worthy the cause for which we are fighting. Should it be deemed necessary to destroy any buildings, mills, tanneries, &c., on the line of march, orders will be given and the proper details made to do the work.