COLLEGE HILL, MISS., NEAR OXFORD,
Dec. 6, 1862.
I left Memphis Wednesday, Nov. 26, with 26 regiments of Infantry, ten field batteries and one Cavalry regiment. In all about 18,000 men to cooperate with Grant in attacking the enemy, then lying on the south bank of the Tallahatchee, 18 miles south of Holly Springs and about 70 from Memphis. Their strength is estimated from about 40,000 to 50,000 men, under Pemberton, Price, Van Dorn and others. Grant allowed me 4 days to reach Tehullahoma. In 3 days I was near Tallahoosee, when I communicated with him, and next day reached Tehullahoma, he advancing to Waterford. Coincident with our movement, an expedition was planned to move from Helena under Gen. Harvey, to attack or threaten Grenada, about 60 miles to the rear of the position of the enemy. On approaching the Tallahatchee we found it abandoned, although its fords, ferries, and crossing places had been well fortified and obstructed. Grant moved on the main road south from Holly Springs, and I on his right about 10 miles, reaching the river at an old town called Wyatt. I had brought boats with me from Memphis, with which we soon crossed our infantry and cavalry regiments, swimming the horses, and found two long lines of intrenchments about 2 miles back from the river, where there is a kind of neck. These were, however, completely abandoned. Sending the Cavalry ahead to co-operate with Grant, then pressing the rear of the retreating forces, deliberately set to work, built a good bridge, and the day before yesterday I rode forward to Oxford, where I found Grant and received his further orders to cross and occupy College Hill, 4 miles to his right.
I have one division, Dunn's, here, and 2 on Hurricane Creek, to my rear. We have had two days’ hard rain and snow, making the roads very bad. Indeed, since the building of the railroad, the mud roads, leading north and south are disused and are washed very badly, the country resembling that about Somerset, Ohio. We find plenty of corn, fodder, cattle, hogs, sheep, &c., so that our enemies have not been starving. Salt is scarce, but they are manufacturing it largely on the coast, and at well about Mobile. By our movement, we have for the time being cleared North Mississippi. I doubt if we shall proceed much further on this line, as operations should now proceed against Vicksburg and Yazoo. I hear nothing from Virginia or Kentucky. We are far ahead of them, and they should push up. . . .
I suppose you hear little of me. I allow no reporters about. My official reports go to the proper office, and thus the enemy shall learn nothing of my forces, plans or purposes, through an egotistical and corrupt press. . . .
W. T. SHERMAN.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 170-1