Wednesday, April 13, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

I wrote to Thomas and Schofield about organizing the commands and securing the confidentiality of our movements.

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi,
Nashville, Tennessee, April 13, 1864
General Thomas, Chattanooga:

Continue to send me reports of scouts and rebel newspapers. Yours are most interesting. Two of mine are in from Memphis, having come from Holly Springs, Pontotoc, Aberdeen, Columbus, Selma, Montgomery, West Point, back to Selma. up to Talladega and Blue Mountain. The enemy is collecting a cavalry force at Blue Mountain, which is about 25 miles from Gadsden, on account of forage which comes up the railroad from Selma and Talladega. It is believed that Loring’s division is ordered to the same point from Demopolis. Johnston doubtless is trying to make up a force to watch that flank, which he must observe, is being threatened by McPherson. Forrest is reported again to be attacking Columbus, Ky. and also trying to cross the Tennessee near Hamburg. He seems to be omnipresent, but I think his cavalry is scattered over between the Mississippi and the Tennessee stealing horses and feeding them. I would as lief have him there as anywhere else now. Newton is here and will come forward tomorrow. Keep a good division for him.

Keep on collecting your command, as we arranged, and unload your cars as fast as possible. I will push forward stores as fast as possible.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I received this reply from Thomas:

Headquarters, Department of the Cumberland,
Chattanooga, Tennessee, April 13, 1864

General:
I am this moment in receipt of your letter of the 11th. Affairs are working quietly, but so far satisfactorily. I am gradually moving my troops down from East Tennessee, but have to watch the newspaper men closely to prevent them from exposing everything. I also find great difficulty in preventing my division commanders as well as subordinates from publishing to the world everything they see, hear, or conjecture. However, I will not complain, but have merely mentioned this to remind you of the difficulties we are laboring under.

My signal men at Ringgold discovered the rebel signal cipher, and have been reading their messages for some days. The officer foolishly informed Baird that he could do so and Baird let it get out all over camp, thus carelessly throwing away a most important advantage.

All your suggestions in regard to drills, &c, are executed daily, and I hope and believe you will find this army ready. I am willing to risk Granger on leave, if he desires to go. I should think Rousseau could give personal attention to both for a time. Newton will get a division in either the Fourth or Fourteenth. Palmer has told me that he would be perfectly willing to serve under Buell. If I could get a good place for Steinwehr there would be no difficulty in organizing Hooker’s command very efficiently. Hooker, I am gratified to see, seems pleased.

I have no especial news from the front today. Yours, truly,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General

We clearly need a better policy to keep secrets I wrote to Schofield:

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi,
Nashville, Tennessee, April 13, 1864

General Schofield, Knoxville, Tennessee:

You can get rid of all citizens in your department by ordering them to enlist or go away. All passes are made void by fraud or crime. You can apply these principles without my using names. I will write to John Sherman on the matter you ask. Try and get rid of those newspaper reporters; they will detect and publish our movements in time for Joe Johnston to guess at our plans.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Schofield replied by telegraph:

Knoxville, April I3, 1864 3.30 p. m.
Major-General, W. T. Sherman:

My latest reports indicate that Longstreet’s main force is still in the vicinity of Abingdon and Bristol. It is reported that the rebels have been strengthening the railroad bridges across the Watauga and Holston, both before and since they fell back. These reports come from very reliable Union men.

General Burbridge reports Morgan having passed Pound Gap with 3,000 cavalry supported by infantry. I do not get any such information from this direction.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General

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