see that it was still occupied.
It then returned, as if the object of the expedition had been accomplished.
On the 11th of February, intelligence was received from Lieutenant-General Polk
that General Sherman
was leading an army of thirty-five thousand infantry and artillery eastwardly from Vicksburg
, had crossed Pearl River
, and was moving along the railroad toward Meridian
was assumed to be the object of this expedition.
Orders by telegraph were received on the same day from the President
, directing me to aid Lieutenant-General Polk
, either by sending him reenforcements or by joining him myself “with what force I could.”
The President urged that the enemy should be met before he had established a new base to which supplies and reinforcements might be sent by sea. I replied on the same day, and suggested that it would be impossible for troops from Dalton
to meet this Federal army before it reached the Gulf
, and therefore asked instructions in that view of the case.
This dispatch did not reach the.President's hands, and on the 13th he asked me by telegraph what I could do toward striking at the enemy while in motion, and before he had established a new base.
I replied that such an expedition would require two-thirds of the Army of Tennessee and would involve the abandonment of “that line.”
On the 16th I was instructed to “detach for temporary service, unless immediately threatened, enough infantry to enable Lieutenant-General Polk
to beat the detachment which the enemy had thrown so far into the interior of our country.”