HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Union, Mississippi
February 22, 1864- 4 a.m.
Colonel E. F. WINSLOW, Commanding Cavalry:
DEAR COLONEL: I cannot hear anything definite of the large cavalry force under General William Sooy Smith, but doubt not he is at or near Macon, and that the cavalry the enemy can collect is in his front opposing his advance to the south. I want to communicate with him and let him know that we have thoroughly demolished the railroad, and for him to come into Canton. I want you early this morning to move rapidly to Philadelphia, and if you hear nothing definite to continue toward Louisville till you cross the Pearl River, no doubt fordable at this stage, and get across the bottom. Then, if you hear nothing satisfactory, feel well toward Louisville and swing across to the road that runs from Kosciusko to Louisville, going as near Louisville as is prudent; then go to Kosciusko, and at any part of your route hire a negro or good scout to carry a message to General Smith, telling him where we are and that I will expect him at Canton. If possible effect a junction with him and conduct him; otherwise trust to messengers. From Kosciusko you can come down the big road between Pearl and Big Black to Canton.
Tonight we will be 12 or 13 mils from here on the Hillsborough road; tomorrow [the 23rd] at Hillsborough road; tomorrow [the 24th] at Hillsborough. By the 25th we will reach Pearl River and bridge it near Canton, and be at Canton 27th and 28th. We will stay a week at Canton until we hear from General Smith, and guard the bridge across the Pearl that length of time. Take with you no wagons or artillery, but act all the time as though followed by a heavy infantry column as long as you head toward Louisville, Macon, and Columbus. After you cross over to the Kosciusko road you will develop the plan, and should then move with considerable rapidity on Canton; but by studying the maps you will see that your flanks are covered all the time. If you cannot cross Pearl tonight there is nothing to be done but to turn and follow us, but I believe you can cross Pearl. The route I have indicated does not call for more than 20 or 25 miles a day, which I know you can make.
I am, with respect, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding