Head Quarters, Dept. of the Ten.
Before Vicksburg, Feb. 18th 1863.
MAJ. GEN. J. A. MCCLERNAND
COMD. G. 13TH ARMY CORPS,
In answer to your note of this date suggesting an attack on Pine Bluff, Ark. after reflection I see but one objection to it. The objection is that all the forces now here, to operate with, are assigned to duties looking to the one great object, that of opening the Miss. and to take off the number of men suggested would retard progress.
I know the President is looking forward with great anxiety to the completion of the canal across the point so as to admit steamers through it. This work requires all the forces here. One Division is already taken from Helena for the Yazoo expedition and Gen. McPherson's Army Corps is employed on a work which may prove of vast importance.
On the return of Gen. Ross to Helena and the Brigade sent by you to clear out rebel forces in the neighborhood of Greenville 1 and Syprus bend 2 it may be practicable to fit out the requisite force by reducing Helena for the time to a minimum and using one Division from here.