Nashville, Tenn., March 4th 1864
MAJ. GEN. W. T. SHERMAN,
COMD. G DEPT. OF THE TEN.
You will be able better than me to judge how far the damage you have done the rail-roads about Meredian will disable the enemy from sending an Army into Mississippi and West Tennessee with which to operate on the river: also what force will now be required to protect and guard the river. Use the negroes, or negro troops, more particularly for guarding plantations and for the defence of the West bank of the river. Make but little calculation on their services East of the river. The Artillerests among them of course you will put in fortifications, but most of the Infantry give to Hawkins to be used on the West bank. Add to this element of your forces what you deem an adequate force for the protection of the river, from Cairo down as far as your command goes, and extend the command of one Army Corps to the whole of it. Assemble the balance of your forces at, or near, Memphis and have them in readiness to join your column on this front in their Spring Campaign. Whether it will be better to have them march, meeting supplies sent up the Tennessee to East Port, or whether they should be brought round to the latter place by steamers can be determined hereafter. Add all the forces now under Dodge to the two Corps, or to one of the two Corps, you take into the field with you.
Forces will be transfered from the Chattanoog[a] and Nashville road to guard all the road now protected by your troops. If they are not sufficient enough will be taken from elswhere to leave all yours for the field.
I am ordered to Washington but as I am directed to keep up telegraphic communication with this command, I shall expect in the course of ten or twelve days, to return to it.
Place the Marine Brigade under the command of the Corps