“I am extremely anxious to hear of your forces getting to the interior of Alabama”

I wrote to Gen. Canby with instructions on how to proceed in his campaign against Mobile.

CITY POINT, VA., February 27, 1865.

Major General E. R. S. CANBY,

Commanding Military Division of West Mississippi:

Bvt. Brigadier General C. B. Comstock, the bearer of this, will report to you for temporary service. Relieve him and order him back to these headquarters as soon as you commence a movement to the interior from Mobile, should that city fall into your possession soon, or when it is clearly ascertained that you are to have a protracted siege. Until recently I supposed that Mobile would probably be surrendered without a struggle. Since, however, I have learned that orders have been given from Richmond to hold the place at all hazards. These orders are now but about a week old, and may have reached there too late. The great length of time that has elapsed since I have heard from you, however, makes it impossible for me to judge whether your campaign has progressed far enough to interfere with a compliance with this order. I am extremely anxious to hear of your forces getting to the interior of Alabama. I send Grierson, an experienced cavalry commander, to take command of your cavalry. At the time he received his orders I did not know that you were intending to send your cavalry from Vicksburg. He was, therefore, directed to report to you in person. I am afraid this will prevent his taking the command I intended, and interfere somewhat with the success of your cavalry. Forrest seems to be near Jackson, Miss., and, if he is, none but the best of our cavalry commanders will get by him. Thomas was directed to start a cavalry force from Eastport, Miss., as soon after the 20th of February as possible, to move on Selma, Ala., which would tent to ward Forrest off. He promised to start it by that day, but I know he did not, and I do not know that he has yet started it.

It but rarely happens that a number of expeditions starting from various points to act upon a common center materially aid each other. They never do except when each acts with vigor, and either makes rapid marches or keeps confronting an enemy. Whilst one column is engaging anything like an equal force it is necessarily aiding the other by holding that force. With Grierson, I am satisfied you would either find him at the appointed place in time or you would find him holding an enemy, which would enable the other column to get there. I think you will find the same true of Wilson, who I suppose will command the forces starting from Eastport.

I directed that you should organize your forces in two corps, one under Steele and the other under A. J. Smith. Both these officers have had experience in subsisting off the country through which they are passing.

I write this now, not to give any instructions not heretofore given, but because I feel a great anxiety to see the enemy entirely broken up in the West whilst I believe it will be an easy job. Time will enable the enemy to reorganize and collect in their deserters and get up a formidable force. By giving them no rest what they now have in their ranks will leave them.

It is also important to prevent, as far as possible, the planting of a crop this year and to destroy their railroads, machine-shops, &c. It is also important to get all the negro men we can before the enemy put them in their ranks.

Stoneman starts from East Tennessee in a few days to make a raid as far up on Lynchburg road as he can get. Sheridan started this morning from Winchester, Va., to destroy the Virginia Central road and James River Canal, and to get to Lynchburg if he can. Each starts with cavalry forces alone.

I am not urging because of any even supposed delay, but because I feel a great anxiety to see everything pushed, and the time it takes to communicate leaves me in the dark as to the progress you are making.

Please write to me fully on receipt of this. General Comstock will give you detailed news from this quarter.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 61-3

O.R., I, xlix, part 1, p 780-1

“General Sherman’s movements will depend on the amount of opposition he meets with from the enemy”

I received the following from Gen. Sheridan,

HEADQUARTERS MIDDLE MILITARY DIVISION,

February 25, 1865-2.30 p.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

I could not get off to-day, as I expected in a previous dispatch to you, but will be off on Monday. I was delayed in getting the brigade from Loudoun County and the canvas pontoon bridge, which was necessary for me to have, as all the streams in the country are at present unfordable. Where is Sherman marching for? Can you give me any definite information as to the points he may be expected to move on this side of Charlotte? The cavalry officers say the cavalry never was in such good condition. I will leave behind about 2,000 men, which will increase to 3,000 in a short time.

P. H. SHERIDAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

 

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., February 25, 1865-7.30 p.m.

Major-General SHERIDAN,

Winchester, Va.:

General Sherman’s movements will depend on the amount of opposition he meets with from the enemy. If strongly opposed he may possibly have to fall back to Georgetown, S. C., and fit out for a new start. I think, however, all danger of the necessity for going to that point has passed. I believe he has passed Charlotte. He may take Fayetteville on his way to Goldsborough. If you reach Lynchburg you will have to be guided in your after movements by the information you obtain. Before you could possibly reach Sherman I think you would find him moving from Goldsborough toward Raleigh, or engaging the enemy strongly posted at one or the other of these places, with railroad communication opened from his army to Wilmington or New Berne.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 53-4

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 701

“I will have an order made prohibiting the use of boats for headquarters”

One of my staff officers has returned from a visit to Wilmington NC and reports that matters are in a bit of disarray.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., February 25, 1865 – 1. 30 p.m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

General Comstock has just returned from Wilmington. He says that General Schofield arrived at the Cape Fear River without his transportation, and as he had to move about on the water asked the quartermaster of there was a boat he could use temporarily as well as not. He was told the Spaulding was doing nothing. When General Comstock left the Spaulding was to be loaded with wounded and some escaped prisoners. I will have an order made prohibiting the use of boats for headquarters.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

CITY POINT, VA., February 25, 1865 – 2. 30 p.m.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of war:

One of my staff officers, who has just returned from Wilmington, says nothing has been done to save the large amount of ordnance and ordnance stores captured in Cape Fear River. I think the Chief of Ordnance should be required to take immediate steps to secure all ordnance stores captured on the coast.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 43-4

O.R., I, xlvii, part 2, p 562

“There are many reasons which I might give why General Butler should not be placed on duty again”

I have learned that there is a move underway to have Gen. Butler restored to command.  I wrote Sec. Stanton to register my disapproval.

CITY POINT, VA., February 23, 1865.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War, Washington:

I see by the papers that an effort is being made to induce the President to appoint General Butler provost-marshal of Charleston and South Carolina. I cannot believe this will be done, but write to respectfully enter my protest. There are many reasons which I might give why General Butler should not be placed on duty again, but I think two of them are sufficient-his order to his troops on being relieved from duty, and his Lowell speech.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 23-4

O.R., I, xlvii, part 2, p 537

“I sincerely condole your bereavement.”

I received the following telegram from Gen. Meade with sorrowful news.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

February 22, 1865-10 a. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

A telegram announces the death of my son yesterday. With your permission I should like to go home for a day or two.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General, Commanding.

 

I wrote him,

CITY POINT, VA., February 22, 1865.

Major-General MEADE:

If you will come immediately in I will arrange to have you sent down the river so as to take the Baltimore boat this evening. I have spoken to General Ingalls, who will have a boat ready for you here on your arrival, and will have the train bring you in at once. I sincerely condole your bereavement.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 17

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 629

“Sherman has but little over 4,000 cavalry, and Schofield none”

I am inclined to send Gen. Sheridan’s cavalry through Lynchburg in an effort to reach Sherman who is woefully short of cavalry.  I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., February 21, 1865-2.30 p. m.

Major-General MEADE:

At the same time I telegraphed you on the subject of the proposed raid I telegraphed to General Sheridan as to the practicability of his starting from where he is, in person, to reach Sherman, going by way of Lynchburg. I do not want to send both. Sherman has but little over 4,000 cavalry, and Schofield none. The main object is to re-enforce Sherman in that arm of service. I may yet sent the proposed re-enforcement to Wilmington. Going by Lynchburg would give us great advantages in cutting the Central road, Virginia and Tennessee road, the Danville road south of Danville, and the canal. If a division is sent from here it would have to be Greeg’s to same time.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 8

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 609

“Rebel papers of Saturday gave full particulars of Sherman’s entrance into Columbia”

Information gleaned from enemy newspapers indicates that Columbia and Charleston SC have fallen to Sherman’s army.  I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., February 20, 1865.

Major-General MEADE:

Rebel papers of Saturday gave full particulars of Sherman’s entrance into Columbia on the morning of the 17th instant, and said they supposed the evacuation of Charleson had already commenced. I will have the bulletin prepared for Washington sent to you every evening hereafter. Deserters on Ord’s front have been on the increase since the return of the Peace Commissioners; they have been more numberous on his front than on yours so far.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 452

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 597

“The rebel flag-of-truce boat William Allison … this afternoon, was blown up by a torpedo”

I have learned that a rebel ship carrying supplies to our soldiers in prison camps has just exploded, most likely by running into one of their own torpedoes.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., February 17, 1865-8.30 p. m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

The rebel flag-of-truce boat William Allison, while on her upward trip from Cox’s Landing, this afternoon, was blown up by a torpedo. The boat went down almost immediately. Our pickets saw no survivors from her. There were no prisoners aboard at the time. This catastrophe probably arose from one of the enemy’s own torpedoes which has been in the water for a long time.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 434

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 574

“General Canby is preparing a movement from Mobile Bay against Mobile and the interior of Alabama”

I have ordered Gen. Camby to make the long-awaited advance on Mobile.  I hope that the enemy will be drawn toward him and leave Gen. Thomas free to operate.  I wrote Thomas,

CITY POINT, VA., February 14, 1864.

Major General G. H. THOMAS:

General Canby is preparing a movement from Mobile Bay against Mobile and the interior of Alabama. His force will consist of about 20,000 men, besides A. J. Smith’s command. The cavalry you have sent to Canby will be debarked at Vicksburg. It, with the available cavalry already in that section, will move from there eastward in co-operation. Hood’s army has been terribly reduced by the severe punishment you gave it in Tennessee, by desertion consequent upon their defeat, and now by the withdrawal of many of them to oppose Sherman. (I take it a large portion of the infantry has been so withdrawn. It is so asserted in the Richmond papers, and a member of the rebel Congress said a few days since in a speech that one-half of it had been brought to South Carolina to oppose Sherman.) This being true, or even if it not true, Canby’s movement will attack all the attention of the enemy, and leave the advance upon your stand-point easy. I think it advisable, therefore, that you prepare as much of a cavalry force as you can spare, and hold it in readiness to go south. The object would be threefold: First, to attack as much of the enemy’s force as possible to insure success to Canby; second, to destroy the enemy’s lines of communication and military resources; third, to destroy or capture their forces brought into the field. Tuscaloosa and Selma would probably be the points to direct the expedition against. This, however, would not be so important as the mere fact of penetrating deep into Alabama. Discretion should be left to the officer commanding the expedition to go where, according to the information he may receive, he will best secure the objects named above.

Now that your force has been so much depleted, I do not know what number of men you can put into the field. If not more than 5,000 men, however, all cavalry, I think it will be sufficient. It is not desirable that you should start this expedition until the one leaving Vicksburg has been three of four days out, or even a week. I do not know when it will start, but will inform you by telegraph as soon as I learn. If you should hear through other sources before hearing from me you can act on the information received.

To insure success your cavalry should go with as little wagon train as possible, relying upon the country for supplies. I would also reduce the number of guns to a battery, or the number of batteries, and put the extra teams to the guns taken. No guns or caissons should be taken with less eight horses.

Please inform me by telegraph, on receipt of this, what force you think you will be able to send under these directions.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 420

O.R., I, xxxviii, part 1, p 38

“I wish every effort would be made to pay the army up to the 31st of December, 1864″

There is apparently some deficiency in the Pay Department or the Treasury as some men in the army have not been paid for months.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CITY POINT, VA., February 13, 1865-12.30 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington:

I wish every effort would be made to pay the army up to the 31st of December, 1864. There is much dissatisfaction felt by officers and men who have families partially or wholly dependent upon their pay for a support on account of delay in receiving their dues. Will you please submit this matter to the Secretaries of War and Treasury.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 415

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 547-8