On Dec. 19, Sherman wrote to Rawlins. "I estimate we have enough Boats to carry our command—We are now embarking and will be all aboard tomorrow. I will go ahead to Helena tomorrow and conclude the arrangements for the Garison at Friars Point & Cavalry force operating to the Tallahatchee. Enough Boatshave gone forward to carry Steeles Command, so that I calculate to leave Helena. Dec 21, Gavins Landing 22. and be at Vicksburg 24th. No final Returns from Helena but estimated Total 32000. men. Admiral Porter is here and goes to Helena tomorrow. We expect all to meet at Millikens Bend 25 miles above Vicksburg, on the 24th. Shall at once break Railroad West of Vicksburg and then enter the Yazoo. You may calculate on our being at Vicksburg by Christmas. — River has risen some feet and all is now good navigation. Gunboats are at Mouth of Yazoo now, and there will be no difficulty effecting a landing up Yazoo within 12 miles of Vicksburg. General Gorman proposes to move all his force from Helena to Napoleon at mouth of Arkansas. I will see him tomorrow. He says he could then if called brig all his men to Vicksburg, or act up the Arkansas. Colonel Howe & 4 companies of Regular Cavalry have arrived armed with pistols & Sabres. I leave him with the Garrison hitherto detailed for Memphis. I take Thielmans Cavalry, 70 men. at Helena will make up the necessary Cavalry force At Vicksburg will act so as to accomplish the original purpose and will calculate to send you rations up the Yazoo. Yazoo City is the best point and can be reached after the reduction of the Battery at Haines Bluff." ALS, DNA, RG 94, War Records Office, Union Battle Reports. O. R., I, xvii, part 1, 603-4. On Dec. 19, Brig. Gen. Frederick Steele, Columbus, Ky., telegraphed to USG. "I am on my way to Helena with one Div expect another will follow soon" Telegram received, DNA, RG 393, Dept. of the Tenn., Telegrams Received.
On Dec. 21, Sherman, Helena, Ark., wrote to Rawlins reporting his strength and plans. ALS, ibid., RG 94, War Records Office, Union Battle Reports. O. R., I, xvii, part 1, 604-5.
Hd Qrs, 13th Army Corps.
Dept of the Tennessee.
Oxford, Dec 15th 1862.
COMMDG OFFICER, ALTON, ILLS.
Col. Faulkner and Capt. Merriweather 1 and their Officers and men now in the Military prison at Alton, Ills. having been recognized by the Conferate authorities as regularly in the Confederate service and entitled to the treatment of Prisoners of War.
You will therefore please send them in charge of a proper escort to Cairo, Ills. and deliver them to the Commdg Officer at