“You can see from General Brayman’s dispatch to me something of General Banks’ disaster”

Gen. Banks’ expedition up the Red River has ended in disaster.  I received the following report from Sherman,

Nashville, Tenn., April 21, 1864

Lieutenant-General GRANT,


I have just received the following dispatch from General Corse, whom I sent to bring up my Red River command:

CAIRO, April 21, 1864-2.30 p.m.


Major-General SHERMAN:

Banks was attacked by Kirby Smith near Mansfield, La., on the 8th instant, and retreated to Grand Ecore a la Bull Run. He refused to let Smith, go, for obvious reasons, stating, however, that he had authority from both Generals Grant and Halleck to retain your troops longer. The admiral’s iron-clads are caught by low water, some above the bars at Grand Ecore, the rest above the falls, and he not only refuses to consent to the removal of Smith, but refused to allow him a transport to take him out of the river, stating that to take Smith away would occasion the loss of his fleet, the utter destruction of General Banks’ demoralized command, and enable the enemy to crush General Steele. I have communications from General Banks and Admiral Porter, and will be with you as speedily as possible.







I also was sent by Sec. Stanton a copy of a similar report from Gen. Brayman.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CULPEPER, VA., April 22, 1864-12 m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

You can see from General Brayman’s dispatch to me something of General Banks’ disaster. I have been satisfied for the last nine months that to keep General Banks in command was to neutralize a large force and to support it most expensively. Although I do not insist upon it, I think the best interests of service demand that General Reynolds should be placed in command at once and that he names his own successor to the command of New Orleans.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 340-1

O.R., I, xxxii, part 3, p 437

O.R., I, xxxiv, part 3, p 252-3



“As a rule I would oppose receiving men for a short term”

I received the following telegram from Sec. Stanton,


Washington, April 21, 1864.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,


The Governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa are here, and propose to offer to the Government 100,000 men, to be ready for the field, clothed, armed, and fully equipped, within twenty days from date of notice, and to serve for the period of three months in fortifications, or wherever else their services may be required, and in any State. The Department would be glad to have your opinion as to whether this offer should be accepted or refused.


Secretary of War.

I replied,

CULPEPER, VA., April 21, 1864.


Secretary of War:

As a rule I would oppose receiving men for a short term, but if 100,000 men can be raised in the time proposed by the Governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa they might come at such a crisis as to be of vast importance. I would not recommend accepting the in lieu of quotas now due on any previous calls for three-years troops. Otherwise I would.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 335

O.R., III, iv, p 238-9

“I will, as you understand, expect you to move from Fort Monroe the same day General Meade starts from here”

Julia’s brother Frederick has joined my staff and I have sent him to Gen. Butler to relay my instructions.  I sent this letter with him.

CULPEPER, VA., April 19, 1864.

Major General B. F. BUTLER,

Commanding Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina:

I send Lieutenant-Colonel Dent, of my staff, with this, not with the view of changing any instructions given, but more particularly to secure full co-operation between your command and that of General Meade.

I will, as you understand, expect you to move from Fort Monroe the same day General Meade starts from here. The exact time I will telegraph as soon as it can be fixed. At present the roads are in such condition that the time could not be fixed earlier than the 27th instant. You can understand therefore you have fully to that date to make your preparations. You also understand that with the forces here I shall aim to fight Lee between here and Richmond, if he will stand. Should Lee, however, fall back into Richmond, I will follow up and make a junction with your army on the James River. Could I be certain that you will be able to invest Richmond on the south side, so as to have your left resting on the James above the city, I would form the junction there. Circumstances may make this course advisable anyhow. I would say, therefore, use every exertion to secure footing as far up the south side of the river as you can, and as soon as possible.

If you hear of our advancing from that direction, or have reason to judge from the action of the enemy that they are looking for danger to that side, attack vigorously, and if you cannot carry the city, at least detain as large a force there as possible. You will want all the co-operation from the navy that can be got. Confer freely with Admiral Lee your plans, that he may make as much preparation as possible. If it is possible to communicate with you after determining my exact line of march, I will do so.

Inform me by return of Colonel Dent your present situation and state of readiness for moving.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 327-8

O.R., I, xxxiii, p 904-5

Halleck: “Such requisitions cannot possibly be filled.”

I have been receiving requests for a substantial number of horses to supply our cavalry units.  It will be impossible to fill them all.  I received this from Gen. Halleck,

WASHINGTON, April 18, 1864-3 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

Culpeper, Va.:

The Eighth Ohio Cavalry was ordered to be mounted and equipped at Camp Dennison, and then sent to General Crook. The Cavalry Bureau has been directed to do this at once. General W. S. Smith, at Nashville, has called on General Davidson for 30,000 cavalry horses. Such requisitions cannot possibly be filled. On March 28 General Pope asked for a delay in sending the Sixth Minnesota to the Army of the Potomac, for reasons given. I will immediately send you a copy of his letter, or will make the order peremptory, if you say so. Pope’s force against Indians is very small.


Major-General, Chief of Staff.

I replied,

CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, April 18, 1864-8 p. m.

(Received 8. 45 p. m.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

There is such a call for cavalry horses from all parts of the army that I would suggest the propriety of an order from the Secretary of War authorizing department commanders to convert 40 per cent. of all their cavalry into infantry, selecting those regiments that have required the greatest number of horses to keep them up to be dismounted. There is full that percentage of cavalry in service more than can be kept mounted and more than is required. If it would be acting in bad faith to dismount them, I would discharge them altogether.



“no distinction whatever will be made in the exchange between white and colored prisoners”

I have received a report from Gen. Butler concerning his negotiations with the Confederates on the subject of prisoner exchanges.  The rebels are continuing to assert the right to return to slavery any colored troops from the Southern states who may be captured.  This is, of course, unacceptable.  I wrote him,

In the Field, Culpeper Court-House, April 17, 1864.

Major General B. F. BUTLER,

Commanding Dept. of Virginia and N. Carolina, Fortress Monroe, Va.:

GENERAL: Your report of negotiations with Mr. Ould, C. S. agent, touching the exchange of prisoners, has been referred to me by the Secretary of War with directions to furnish you such instructions on the subject as I may deem proper.

After a careful examination of your report the only points on which I deem instructions necessary are:

First. Touching the validity and the paroles of the prisoners captured at Vicksburg and Port Hudson.

Second. The status of colored prisoners.

As to the first, no arrangement for the exchange of prisoners will be acceded to that does not fully recognize the validity of these paroles and provide for the release to us of a sufficient number of prisoners now held by the Confederate authorities to cancel any balance that may be in our favor by virtue of these paroles.

Until there is released to us a sufficient number of officers and men as were captured and paroled at Vicksburg and Port Hudson not another Confederate prisoner of war will be paroled or exchanged.

As to the second, no distinction whatever will be made in the exchange between white and colored prisoners; the only question being, were they at the time of their capture in the military service of the United States. If they were the same terms as to treatment while prisoners and conditions of release and exchange must be exacted and had in the case of colored soldiers as of white soldiers.

Non-acquiescence by the Confederate authorities in both or either of these propositions will be regarded as a refusal on their part to agree to the further exchange of prisoners, and will be so treated by us.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 301-2

O.R., II, vii, p 62-3

“I would much rather the Red River expedition had never been begun than that you should be detained one day”

I am worried that Gen. Banks’ campaign up the Red River will prevent his move on Mobile as envisioned in our plan for the grand campaign in the Spring.  I have decided to send Gen. Hunter to Banks in order to better explain my plans.  I wrote Banks,

CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA., April 17, 1864.

Major General N. P. BANKS,

Commanding Department of the Gulf:

Owing to the difficulty of giving positive instructions to a distant commander respecting his operations in the field, and being exceedingly anxious that the whole army should act nearly as a unit, I send Major-General Hunter, an officer of rank and experience, bearer of duplicate copy of instructions sent you, of the 31st of March, together with written instructions for General Hunter’s guidance in your and his interview.

It is not intended that General Hunter shall give orders in my name further than the instructions addressed to him are such orders, but to express more fully my views than I can well do on paper, and to remain with you until such time as you will be able to say definitely at what time you will commence your movement against Mobile.

In your letter of the 2nd of April, brought by Lieutenant Towner, you, in anticipation of the enemy falling back from Shreveport, propose a movement through Texas in pursuit of him. You had not when the letter was written received my instructions of the 31st of March. I hope those instructions reached you before such a movement was commenced. I would much rather the Red River expedition had never been begun than that you should be detained one day after the 1st of May in commencing your movement east of the Mississippi.

If you have commenced to move from Shreveport to the interior of Texas, or away from the Red River in any direction, retrace your steps on receipt of this. No matter what you may have in contemplation, commence your concentration, to be followed without delay by your advance on Mobile. Hoping that General Hunter will find you back at New Orleans, with the work of concentration commenced,

I remain, &c.,



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 298

O.R., I, xxxiv, part 3, p 191-2


“Please order General C. C. Washburn to proceed at once to Memphis and relieve Genl Hurlbut”

We must have a more vigorous response to Forrest’s incursion into Tennessee and Kentucky.  I have ordered Gen. Hurlbut to be relieved.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

Culpeper Va.
7 P m April 16th 1864
Maj Genl H W Halleck Chief of Staff
Please order General C. C. Washburn to proceed at once to Memphis and relieve Genl Hurlbut in command of district of West Tennessee General Hurlbut to report from Cairo by letter to the Adjutant General at what point orders will reach him I do not want W. assigned to command of sixteenth (16) Army Corps but will leave Genl Dodge to command that portion in the field Gen Crittenden may be ordered to report to General Burnside
U. S. Grant
Lt Gen Comdg


I also wrote Gen. Rosecrans in Missouri to urge him to send reinforcements to Cairo.

CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA., April 16, 1864-10.30 a. m.

Major General W. S. ROSECRANS,

Saint Louis, Mo.:

Send the Twelfth Missouri, Ninth Iowa, and Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry to Cairo without delay. You may replace as many of them as you may require about Saint Louis from other parts of your command.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 290-1, 294

National Archives, RG 94, Letters Received

O.R., I, xxxiv, part 3, p 184

“If our men have been murdered after capture, retaliation must be resorted to promptly.”

I received the following disturbing news of a rebel atrocity that occurred a few days ago at Fort Pillow in Tennessee.  Reportedly, colored troops were killed after surrendering to forces under the command of Gen. Forrest.  Gen. Sherman writes,

Nashville, Tenn., April 15, 1864.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

Culpeper, Va.:

General Brayman reports from Cairo the arrival of 50 wounded white soldiers from Fort Pillow, and that the place was attacked on the 12th, 50 white soldiers killed and 100 taken prisoners, and 300 blacks murdered after surrender. I don’t know what these men were doing at Fort Pillow. I ordered it to be abandoned before I went to Meridian, and it was so abandoned. General Hurlbut must have sent this garrison up recently from Memphis. So many are on furlough that Grierson and Hurlbut seem to fear going out of Memphis to attack Forrest. I have no apprehension for the safety of Paducah, Columbus, or Memphis, but without drawing from Dodge, I have no force to send over there, and don’t want to interrupt my plans of preparation for the great object of the spring campaign. I expect McPherson’s two divisions from Vicksburg to rendezvous at Cairo from furlought about the 20th, and I look for A. J. Smith up daily from Red River. Whenever either of these commands arrive I can pen Forrest up, but will take some time to run him down. Do you want me to delay for such a purpose, but shall I go on to concentrate on Chattanooga?

I don’t know what to do with Hurlbut. I know that Forrest could men him up in Memphis with 2,500 men, although Hurlbut has all of Grierson’s cavalry and 2,500 white infantry, 4,000 blacks, and the citizen militia, 3,000. If you think I have time I will send a division from Dodge to Purdy, and order A. J. Smith as he comes up to strike island to Bolivar, Jackson, &c., and some across by land to the Tennessee. This may consume an extra two weeks.

Corse was at Vicksburg ready to start up the Red River the 8th.




I replied,


April 15, 1864-8 p.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Forrest must be driven out, with a proper commander in West Tennessee there is force enough now. Your preparations for the coming campaign must go on, but if it is necessary to detach a portion of the troops intended for it, detach them and make your campaign with that much fewer men.

Relieve Major General S. A. Hurlbut. I can send General Washburn, a sober and energetic officer, to take his place. I can also send you General L. C. Hunt to command District of Columbus. Shall I send Washburn? Does General Hurlbut think if he moves a part of his force the only enemy within 200 miles of him that the post will run off with the balance of his force?

If our men have been murdered after capture, retaliation must be resorted to promptly.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 284-5

O.R., I, xxxii, part 3, p 366-7

“The late rain has so far set back offensive operations that we can change plan … any time in the next ten days”

I am in Annapolis MD, visiting Gen. Burnside and his 9th Corps.  I received a telegram from Gen. Sigel complaining of bad road conditions.  I wrote him,

WASHINGTON CITY, April 12, 1864-1. 30 p. m.

Major-General SIGEL,

Cumberland, Md.:

Your letter received. Will not a week or ten days’ good weather make the programme laid out in my previous instructions practicable? The route you now suggest, that is, by sending the whole force to Gauley Bridge to start, was my idea exactly, simply consulting the map, without any personal knowledge of the country to be traversed. Consultation, however, with officers who had been in the country induced me to give the instructions I did. The late rain has so far set back offensive operations that we can change plan, if found necessary, any time in the next ten days.



He replied,

CUMBERLAND, MD., April 12, 1864-7 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

Washington, D. C.:

Your dispatch of to-day is received. I will continue in making all dispositions necessary to carry out your programme. According to it there would be only three regiments of infantry left, besides the rest of Averell’s cavalry, to defend or move up the Shenandoah Valley. Ten would go with General Ord, six, with General Crook, besides the Thirty-sixth Ohio, and four would be posted on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Monocacy to Parkersburg, among them two Maryland and one Virginia regiments, raised for local defense, and necessary to guard our stores and depots and to load and unload trains.




I replied,

ANNAPOLIS, April 13, 1864-10 a. m.

Major-General SIGEL, Cumberland, Md.:

Your dispatch of yesterday is received, and is satisfactory. A movement up the Shenandoah Valley, if necessary to make it, will not require much more than an escort for the wagon train. I have directed a regiment of heavy artillery to be sent to you from Baltimore, which I do not see enters into your calculation of forces. In addition to this I may in case of an urgent necessity be able to send you, say, four more regiments of infantry from Washington, when the time for moving arrives.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 282, 285

O.R., I, xxxiii, p 845, 858

Sherman: “If the enemy interrupt my communications, I…will feel perfectly justified in taking whatever…I can find”

I received a reply from Gen. Sherman to my letter outlining the general plan of campaign this spring.



Nashville, Tenn., April 10, 1864.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

Commander-in-Chief,Washington, D. C.:


Your two letters of April 4 are now before me, and afford me infinite satisfaction. That we are now all to act in a common plan, converging on a common center, looks like enlightened war.

Like yourself you take the biggest load, and from me you shall have thorough and hearty co-operation. I will not let side issues draw me off from your main plan, in which I am to knock Joe Johnston, and do as much damage to the resources of the enemy as possible. I have heretofore written to General Rawlins and Colonel Babcock, of your staff, somewhat of the method in which I propose to act. I have seen all my army corps and division commanders, and have signified only to the former, viz, Schofield, Thomas, and McPherson, our general plans, which I inferred from the purport of our conversation here and at Cincinnati.

First, I am pushing stores to the front with all possible dispatch, and am completing the organization according to the orders from Washington, which are ample and perfectly satisfactory. I did not wish to displace Palmer, but asked George Thomas to tell me in all frankness exactly what he wanted. All he asked is granted, and all he said was that Palmer, but asked George Thomas to tell me in all frankness exactly what he wanted. All he asked is granted, and all he said was that Palmer felt unequal to so large a command, and would be willing to take a division, provided Buell or some tried and experienced soldier were given the corps. But on the whole Thomas is now well content with his command; so are Schofield and McPherson.

It will take us all of April to get in our furloughed veterans, to bring up A. J. Smith’s command, and to collect provisions and cattle to the line of the Tennessee. Each of the three armies will guard by detachments of its own their rear communications. At the signal to be given by you, Schofield will leave a select garrison at Knoxville and Loudon, and with 12,000 men drop down to Hiwassee and march on Johnston’s right by the old Federal road. Stoneman, now in Kentucky organizing the cavalry forces of the Army of the Ohio, will operate with Schofield on his left front; it may be, pushing a select body of about 2,000 cavalry by Ducktown on Ellijay and toward Athens.

Thomas will aim to have 45,000 men of all arms and move straight on Johnston wherever he may be, fighting him cautiously, persistently, and to the best of advantage. He will have two divisions of cavalry to take advantage of any offering.

McPherson will have nine divisions of the Army of the Tennessee if A. J. Smith gets in, in which case he will have full 30,000 of the best men in America. He will cross the Tennessee at Decatur and Whitesburg, march toward Rome and feel for Thomas. If Johnston fall behind the Coosa, then McPherson will push for Rome, and if Johnston then fall behind the Chattahoochee, as I believe he will, then McPherson will cross and join with Thomas. McPherson has no cavalry, but I have taken one of Thomas’ divisions, viz, Garrard’s, 6,000 strong, which I now have at Columbia, mounting, equipping, and preparing. I design this division to operate on McPherson’s right rear or front, according as the enemy appears; but the moment I detect Johnston falling behind the Chattahochee, I propose to cast off the effective part of this cavalry division, after crossing Coosa, straight for Opelika, West Point, Columbus, or Wetumpka, to break up the road between Montgomery and Georgia. If Garrard can do this work good, he can return to the main army; but should a superior force interpose, then he will seek safety at Pensacola, and join Banks, or after rest act against any force that he can find on the east of Mobile, till such time as he can reach me.

Should Johnston fall behind Chattahoochee I would feint to the right, but pass to the left, and act on Atlanta, or on its eastern communications, according to developed facts.

This is about as far ahead as I feel disposed to look, but I would ever bear in mind that Johnston is at all times to be kept so busy that he cannot, in any event, send any part of his command against your or Banks.

If Banks can at the same time carry Mobile and open up the Alabama River he will in a measure solve the most difficult part of my problem-provisions. But in that I must venture. Georgia has a million of inhabitants. If they can live, we should not starve. If the enemy interrupt my communications, I will be absolved from all obligations to subsist on our own sources, but will feel perfectly justified in taking whatever and whenever I can find. I will inspire my command, if successful, with my feeling that beef and salt are all that is absolutely necessary to life, and parched corn fed General Jackson’s army once on that very ground.

As ever, your friend and servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 252-4

O.R., I, xxxii, part 3, p 312-4