We received the following report at Headquarters from General Hurlbut in Memphis.
Headquarters Sixteenth Army Corps,
Memphis. Tennessee, April 1, 1864 Major R. M. Sawyer,
Asst. Adjt. General, Military Division of the Mississippi:
I have the honor to report, for the information of the major-general commanding, that the whole active force under command of Major-General Forrest, C. S. Army, consisting of about 5,000 to 6,000 men, is now north of the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Forrest himself having returned to Jackson, Tennessee, on the 29th ultimo. This movement on the part of the enemy was unquestionably timed on accurate information of the situation of the cavalry force of this corps.
Pursuant to orders from Washington, approved by the major-general commanding, every effort has been made to push forward the reenlistment of veteran volunteers, and every regiment of cavalry and infantry entitled to re-enlist in this corps has done so. The result is that fragments of non-veterans of the several regiments are left. This result, of course to be expected, limits the efficiency of the cavalry, but even without this a far more stringent difficulty arises from the impossibility of procuring horses. There are, as General Grierson reports, only 2,200 cavalry horses in his command, which of course controls the number of men to be employed in this service. Estimates were sent on from this office to Washington, and to the chief of cavalry of the department, in September, for 5,000 horses, to be furnished between 1st October and 1st January. None have arrived excepting a few taken up by General W. S. Smith on his late expedition.
The Third Michigan Cavalry is reported at Saint Louis, 1,300 waiting horses and transportation. The Seventh Kansas either is now at Saint Louis or will be in a day or two.
It is utterly useless to follow this marauding force with infantry, as they are all mounted, even if there were disposable infantry here.
The people of West Tennessee and Kentucky are overwhelmingly disloyal, if any clue to men’s intentions can he had from their acts. They readily report all movements of our troops, and rarely furnish any news of the enemy. I consider the damage done to Paducah as a proper lesson to that place and its vicinity.
General Grierson has orders sent by telegraph from Major-General Sherman to attack, and will do so, but has not, in my judgment, the force to make serious impression. I gather from prisoners and others that the intent of the movement was to seize Paducah and cross, if possible, to destroy Mound City and Cairo. Connected with this was the belief of a rising in Kentucky, in which case Forrest was to cross the Tennessee and operate in Kentucky east of the river. But for the cowardly surrender of Union City by Colonel Hawkins, no injury would have been inflicted by this raid upon any part of the country in which the United States have any considerable interest.
I was instructed by Major-General Sherman not to attempt anything further than to hold the points on the river until the return of the veterans and of the detached forces now in the field should give a more able force, to be concentrated near Memphis until these events occur. This force is crippled for any active offensive operations, and however much I may chafe under these disabilities, I cannot change the state of affairs.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant.
S. A. HURLBUT, Major-General