Grant wants me in Nashville by the 17th and I will have to leave immediately to arrive on time.
I wrote a letter to McPherson explaining the situation and have issued orders that will allow his troops to arrive in East Tennessee in time for the Spring campaign.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE MEMPHIS, March 14, 1864
Major General McPHERSON, commanding, etc, Vicksburg, Mississippi
I wrote you at length on the 11th, by a special bearer of dispatches, and now make special orders to cover the movements therein indicated. It was my purpose to await your answer, but I am summoned by General Grant to be in Nashville on the 17th, and it will keep me moving night and day to get there by that date. I must rely on you, for you understand that we must reenforce the great army at the centre (Chattanooga) as much as possible, at the same time not risking the safety of any point on the Mississippi which is fortified and armed with heavy guns.
I want you to push matters as rapidly as possible, and to do all you can to put two handsome divisions of your own corps at Cairo, ready to embark up the Tennessee River by the 20th or 30th of April at the very furthest. I wish it could be done quicker; but the promise of those thirty-days furloughs in the States of enlistment, though politic, is very unmilitary. It deprives us of our ability to calculate as to time; but do the best you can. Hurlbut can do nothing till A. J. Smith returns from Red River. I will then order him to occupy Grenada temporarily, and to try and get those locomotives that we need here. I may also order him with cavalry and infantry to march toward Tuscaloosa, at the same time that we move from the Tennessee River about Chattanooga.
I don’t know as yet the grand strategy of the next campaign, but on arrival at Nashville I will soon catch the main points, and will advise you of them.
Steal a furlough and run to Baltimore incognito but get back in time to take part in the next grand move.
Write me fully and frequently of your progress. I have ordered the quartermaster to send down as many boats as he can get, to facilitate your movements. Mules, wagons, etc., can come up afterward by transient boats.
I am truly your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding
These are my official orders:
Special Field Order No. 28.
HEADQUARTERS DEP ARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE MEMPHIS, March 14, 1864
1. Major-General McPherson will organize two good divisions of his corps (Seventeenth) of about five thousand men, each embracing in part the reenlisted veterans of his corps whose furloughs will expire in April, which he will command in person, and will rendezvous at Cairo, Illinois, and report by telegraph and letter to the general commanding at department headquarters, wherever they may be. These divisions will be provided with new arms and accoutrements, and land transportation (wagons and mules) out of the supplies now at Vicksburg, which will be conveyed to Cairo by or before April 15th.
2. During the absence of General McPherson from the district of Vicksburg, Major-General Hurlbut will exercise command over all the troops in the Department of the Tennessee from Cairo to Natchez, inclusive, and will receive special instructions from department headquarters.
By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman: L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp