“I can not be driven from rendering the best service within my ability to suppress the present rebellion”

May 14 1862, Wrote Congressman Washburn, “The great number of attacks made upon me by the press of the country is my apology for not writing to you oftener, not desiring to give any contradiction to them myself.  You have interested yourself so much has my friend that should I say anything it would probably be made use of in my behalf.  I would scorn being my own defender against such attacks except through the record which has been kept of all my official acts and which can be examined at Washington at any time.

“To say that I have not been distressed at these attacks upon me would be false, for I have a father, mother, wife & children who read them and are distressed by them, and I necessarily share with them in it.  Then too all subject to my orders read these charges and it is calculated to weaken their confidence in me and weaken my ability to render efficient service in our present cause.  One thing I will assure you of however;  I can not be driven from rendering the best service within my ability to suppress the present rebellion, and when it is over, retiring to the same quite it, the rebellion, found me enjoying.

“Notoriety has no charms for me and could I render the same services that I hope it has been my fortune to render our just cause, without being known in the matter, it would be infinitely preferable to me.

“Those people who expect a field of battle to be maintained, for a whole day, with about 30,000 troops, most of them entirely raw, against 70,000, as was the case at Pittsburg Landing, whilst waiting for reinforcements to come up, without loss of life, know little of War.  To have left the field of Pittsburg for the enemy to occupy until our force was sufficient to have gained a bloodless victory would have been to have left the Tennessee to become a second Potomac.  There was nothing left for me but to occupy the West bank of the Tennessee and to hold it at all hazards.  It would have set this war back six months to have failed and would have caused the necessity of raising, as it were, a new Army.

“Looking back at the past I cannot see for the life of me any important point that could be corrected.  Many persons who have visited the different fields of battle may have gone away displeased because they were not permitted to carry off horses, fire arms, or other valuables as trophies.  But they are no patriots who would base their enmity on such grounds.  Such I assure you are the grounds of many bitter words that have been said against me by person who at this day would not know me by sight yet profess to speak from a personal acquaintance.

“I am sorry to write such a letter, infinitely sorry that there should be grounds for it.  My own justification does not demand it, but you, a friend, are entitled to know my feelings.

“As a friend I would be pleased to give you a record, weekly at furthest, of all that transpires in that portion of the army that I am, or may be, connected with, but not to make public use of.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 119-20

Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Il

Wrote Julia, “I regard this as the last great battle to be fought in the valley of the Mississippi.”

May 13, 1862 Wrote Julia, “I have just received two letters from you, one written on the 3d and the other on the 4th of this month, both complaining of not receiving letters from me.  I write usually twice a week and why in the world you do not get my letters, I can’t tell.  You also ask if I won’t send you a remittance soon!  It is only a month since I sent you $205 00 and since that I have sent you $250 00 more and wrote to you to draw the $100 you got from Mr. Safford.  I have also written two or three times to join me the moment you hear of me being on the Mississippi River.  Since that however, I have written to you that I expected to go home after the approaching battle.  I I do not however, and you hear of our arrival at Memphis, join me at once.  You may draw on Mr. Safford for $200 00 if you like.  I shall not probably be able to send any from here at the end of the month as I will use my pay for secret service funds to make up for the money I have of that kind with Mr. Safford and with the Sub Treasurer in New York City.  I would just as leave you would draw all I have with Mr. Safford as not however.  The amount is between three and four hundred dollars.

“We are now encamped in the state of Mississippi, within hearing of the enemies drums at Corinth.  Every day we have more or less skirmishing but nothing that could be magnified into a battle.  As I have said before in several of my letters, I regard this as the last great battle to be fought in the valley of the Mississippi.  If the War is to be continued I am  anxious to go to some other field.  I have probably done more hard work than any other General officer and about as much fighting and although I will shrink from no duty, I am perfectly willing that others should have every opportunity for distinguishing themselves.  I have had my full share of abuse, too, but I think no harm will come from all that.

“In my last letter I told you that it would probably be my last this side of Corinth.  But we move slow, Gen. Halleck being determined to make sure work.  Then too, the roads have been so intolerable until within the last few days that it has been very difficult to get up supplies for the army.

“Kiss all the children for me.  Give my love to all at home.  If you do not get letters don’t blame me with it for I write every three or four days.

“Kisses for yourself.”

“P.S. I never enjoyed better health in my life than for the last month.  I must weigh ten or fifteen pounds more now than at any time since leaving California.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 117-8

Library of Congress – USG


Gen Halleck: “You have precisely the position to which your rank entitles you.”

May 12, 1862 Received letter from Gen. Halleck, “GENERAL: Your position, as second in command of the entire forces here in the field, rendered it proper that you should be relieved from the direct charge of either the right wing or the reserve, both of which are mainly composed of your forces. Orders for movements in the field will be sent direct from these headquarters to commanders of army corps, divisions, brigades, or even regiments, if deemed necessary, and you will have no more cause of complaint on that score than others have.

“I am very much surprised, general, that you should find any cause of complaint in the recent assignment of commands. You have precisely the position to which your rank entitles you. Had I given you the right wing or reserve only it would have been a reduction rather than increase of command, and I could not give you both without placing you in the position you now occupy.

“You certainly will not suspect me of any intention to injure your feelings or reputation or to do you any injustice; if so, you will eventually change your mind on this subject. For the last three months I have done everything in my power to ward off the attacks which were made upon you. If you believe me your friend you will not require explanations; if not, explanations on my part would be of little avail.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 115

O.R., I, x, Part 2, 182-3

“I respectfully ask either to be relieved from duty entirely or to have my position so defined that there can be no mistaking it.”

May 11 1862, Wrote Gen. Halleck, “Since the publication of Special Field Orders No. 35 relieving me from the immediate command of any portion of the Army in the Field, I have felt my position as anomalous and determined to have it corrected, in some way, as soon as the present impending crisis should be brought to a close.  I felt that censure was implied but did not wish to call up the matter in the face of the enemy.

“Now, however, as I believe it is generally under stood through this army that my position differs but little from that of one in arrest, and as this opinion may be much strengthened from the fact that orders to the Right Wing and the Reserve, both nominally under my command, are transmitted direct from General Head Quarters, without going through me, I deem it due to myself to ask either full restoration to duty, according to my rank, or to be relieved entirely from further duty.

“I cannot, do not, believe that there is any disposition on the part of yourself to do me any injustice, but suspicions have been aroused that you may be acting under instructions from higher authority that I know nothing of.

“That there has been a studied persistent opposition to me by persons outside of the army, and it may be by some in it, I am fully aware.  This I care nothing for further than it is calculated to weaken confidence in me with those whom it becomes my duty to command.

“In conclusion then, General, I respectfully ask either to be relieved from duty entirely or to have my position so defined that there can be no mistaking it.

“I address you direct instead of through the A. A. Gen. because this is a more private matter, and one in which I may possibly be wrong, than on official business.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 114-15

National Archives, RG 393, Dept. of the Miss., Letters Received.

“The movement was a siege from the start to the close.”

May 7 1862 “On the 30th of April the grand army commenced its advance from Shiloh upon Corinth. The movement was a siege from the start to the close. The National troops were always behind entrenchments, except of course the small reconnoitering parties sent to the front to clear the way for an advance. Even the commanders of these parties were cautioned, “not to bring on an engagement.” “It is better to retreat than to fight.” The enemy were constantly watching our advance, but as they were simply observers there were but few engagements that even threatened to become battles. All the engagements fought ought to have served to encourage the enemy. Roads were again made in our front, and again corduroyed; a line was intrenched, and the troops were advanced to the new position. Cross roads were constructed to these new positions to enable the troops to concentrate in case of attack. The National armies were thoroughly intrenched all the way from the Tennessee River to Corinth.

“For myself I was little more than an observer. Orders were sent direct to the right wing or reserve, ignoring me, and advances were made from one line of entrenchments to another without notifying me.”

Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt. XXVI,  p 250-251

“We now have our advance within three miles of Corinth.”

May 5 ,1862 Wrote Julia, “Olando Ross has just arrived bringing a letter for me from you and also one from Father.  The latter seems very anxious that I should contradict the statements made by the newspapers!  Don’t he know the best contradiction in the world is to pay no attention to them?  I am in the best health in the world.  I think I must be twenty pounds heavier than when I first arrived at Savanna.  I was then much reduced however from Diarrhea.  My weight now must be 150 pounds.  Orley says that Missy is one of the smartest little girls to learn in Covington.  I wrote to you that when you heard of my arrival any place on the Mississippi River you might join me.  We now have our advance within three miles of Corinth.  Every day our column moves up closer to the enemy.  It is a big job however to get a large Army over country roads where it has been raining for the last five months.  If we could go strung along the road where there was no enemy to meet it would be different.  Here, however, the front must be kept compact and we do well to approach a few miles every day.

“Yesterday Gen. Pope had quite a skirmish with the rebels in getting possession of the town of Farmington three miles of Corinth.  Pope lost two men killed and twelve wounded whilst the enemy left thirty dead on the field and lost quite a number taken prisoners.  You will hear the result of the attack on Corinth, by telegraph, before this reaches you.

“I sent you $250 by express the other day.  Draw the $100 you got from Mr. Safford as a matter of course.  I want you to let Father have all you can for us to start on at the close of the war, but don’t stint yourself.  I want you and the children to dress well.  You can say to Father that Nelson’s troops made a good march on Saturday and were ordered that evening to march up the river to opposite Pittsburg Landing the next morning, which they did starting at an early hour.  After the attack commenced, orders were sent hurrying them up.  But it is no small matter to march 10,000 men nine miles and cross a river with them when there are no ferry boats and but a small landing overcrowded with steamers.

“The papers will get done with this thing after awhile and look upon the first days fight at Pittsburg Landing as one of the best resistances ever made.  The enemy outnumbered us three to one that day and we held the field.

“Kiss the children for me.  Give my love to all at home.  Did you get Simp’s watch?  I shall not want my citizens clothing until my return to the loyal states.  I hope and feel that my return there is not going to be long deferred.  After one more big battle, it certainly cannot be necessary to keep this large army together and I am anxious to go either to Texas or on the coast someplace.  Kisses for yourself.

“The letter I sent you from Gen. Smith was probably the last he ever wrote.  That was written by himself, but seeing how badly it was done, he had it copied and signed it himself.  He was a gallant soldier and one who’s esteem was worth having.  In Gen. Sherman the country has an able and gallant defender and your husband a true friend.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 110-11

Library of Congress – USG

“[T]he enemy are moving toward Purdy, to operate on our flank.”

May 2 1862, Wrote Gen. McClernand, “A note just received from General Halleck says that the enemy are moving toward Purdy, to operate on our flank. Have all the approaches by way of Owl Creek well watched, and tomorrow early, or to-night if practicable, a strong reconnoitering party toward Purdy. Cavalry alone will answer for this reconnaissance. I will direct General Wallace to use extra vigilance on the two roads leading from here. ”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 108

O.R., I, x, part 2, 157

Issued General Orders No. 50, “The undersigned takes command of the Army of the Tennessee”

Issued General Orders No. 50, “In compliance with Special Field Orders, Numbers 35, from general headquarters, the undersigned takes command of the Army of the Tennessee, including the reserve, under Major General J. A. McClernand.

All reports of the right wing and the reserve will be consolidated at the headquarters of each respectively, and forwarded to these headquarters. All orders heretofore in force will continue so until otherwise directed.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 104

O.R., I, x, part 2, 154