Sherman reports to Grant on his move to Chattanooga. He’s being harassed by Chalmers’ cavalry a bit, but it’s not a serious threat. Unaware of Porter’s assessment of the river conditions, he’s still hoping for supplies by that route. Lastly, he’s adamant that Grant move to Nashville “as foreshadowed by Halleck” — I suspect Grant’s shared Halleck’s hints with Sherman.
CORINTH, October 15, 1863-7.30 a.m.
DEAR GENERAL: Yesterday I got your dispatch from Memphis and answered it instanter. I hope my answer got to you quick, though these operators take their time in making up the “ciphers.” I am afraid you got of before you heard from me. I now send by young Dunn some letters I had written yesterday which contain about all the facts I can now obtain reliable.
The railroad has a kink somewhere, and it seems our horses and men eat up rations and forage as fast as they come forward. But I will manage to stop the leak somehow.
Again, my troops were directed after they left Memphis to protect the road, and two of the regiments are still off with Sweeny. Nevertheless, the head of my column is now at Bear Creek and Eastport, and it won’t take long to get to Tuscumbia.
I am a little uneasy about the means of crossing, as General Osterhaus reports a good wide and deep channel at Eastport, with a “strong current.” If this be so, the Tennessee is rising from rains in the Alleghanies, and once up a few feet it may be relied on for six months sure.
I have written to Admiral Porter on this subject, but hope you will take it in hand.
Boat communication being once established with me at Eastport I will be all right. I don’t believe Hurlbut’s force will keep this road open long, though I do believe from present appearances that there is no enemy near it but the guerrillas and Chalmers’ force, which is being pushed down beyond the Tallahatchie. Hatch ought now to make up old scores with that whole band. Their attack on Collierville was very weak. They had artillery, but did not get it in any position where a shot could do but one execution. No enfilading fire attempted,though one or two solid shots tearing through our train would have demolished it. I was glad to be at Collierville, for it has given heart to these railroad guards that don’t know the value of the defenses they have all made.
I am very anxious you should go to Nashville, as foreshadowed by Halleck, and chiefly as you can harmonize all conflicts of feeling that may exist in that vast crowd. Rosecrans and Burnside and Sherman, with their subordinates, would be ashamed of petty quarrels if you were behind and near them, between them and Washington. Next, the union of such armies and the direction of it is worthy your ambition.
I shall await news from you with great anxiety.
As ever, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN.