“I want you to keep up communication with the Yazoo Expedition, and report progress to me from time to time”

Feb 28 1863.  Our naval expedition along the Yazoo River is progressing.  I sent further instructions to Gen. Prentiss,

To Brig. Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss
Before Vicksburg

Brig Genl B. M. Prentiss Commd.g Dist. of Eastern Ark

I send you the smallest stern wheel steamer we have here. I want you to keep up communication with the Yazoo Expedition, and report progress to me from time to time, supply them with rations and everything required by them so far as it is in your power.
Inform Genl Ross that by the last information I have had from that country the rebel, force is small all the way north from Haines Bluff at Grenada there is not over two thousands men and I doubt if that many.

The Advance boats should be cautious in approaching Grenada and also Yazoo City looking out for torpedoes. In approaching a town they should notify the inhabitants to surrender and give them but a very short time, say thirty minutes at the outside to make up their minds and not permit them to move their women and children Being near where all vessels from Genl Ross expedition strike the river, act on your own Judgement in all matters requiring prompt action

U. S. Grant

Maj Genl.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 369

National Archives, RG 393, Dept. of the Tenn., Letters Sent

“It may be that some of the force is leaving Vicksburg, but I have no evidence of the fact.”

Feb 27 1863.  I cannot put much trust in reports that Vicksburg is being evacuated.  I wrote Gen. Hurlbut,

BEFORE Vicksburg, February 27, 1863.

Major General STEPHEN A. HURLBUT,

Comdg. SIXTEENTH Army Corps:

Your dispatch sent by special messenger is just received. It may be that some of the force is leaving Vicksburg, but I have no evidence of the fact. It is impossible to get information from there. Even deserters who come can tell nothing except of their own regiments, or brigades at furthest.

It will be well to hold the DIVISION previously ordered in readiness to be moved, as in that case, if the report should prove true that the enemy are evacuating Vicksburg, they could readily be sent by steamer to Nashville. I also have a force of about two DIVISIONS to come from Saint Louis, which General Halleck can change the designation of, if he becomes satisfied that they are more needed with Rosecrans than with me. If you have not already done so, telegraph General Halleck the substance of your dispatch to me. It would be well to telegraph General Halleck direct all information you receive affecting the safety of other commands.

U. S. GRANT.

P. S. -It is my desire that the DIVISION to be held in readiness to be brought here should be brought to Memphis without any delay. I presume you so understood me, but I mention it now because I may not have been distinct on this point before.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, 361-2

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 71

Gen. Hamilton: “Scouts have arrived from the interior of Mississippi during the last twenty-four hours, and all report the enemy rapidly evacuating Vicksburg”

Feb 26 1863.  The following report of enemy operations east of Vicksburg has just been forwarded to me by Gen. Hurlbut,

HEADQUARTERS SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Memphis, Tenn., February 25, 1863.

Lieutenant Colonel JOHN A. RAWLINS,

Assistant Adjutant-General:

SIR: I inclose you the following:*

General Grant must judge of the necessities of the case by combining it with his information. I have no doubt that a considerable movement east is going on. I question whether it means abandonment of Vicksburg, except by their main force. It would be high strategy to draw our army so far down, and then sweep over their inland lines to attack Rosecrans, and the movement of Van Dorn intimates something of the kind. The Confederate authorities work for successful blows in war, and are not respecters of persons or places. They would undoubtedly abandon Vicksburg, if thereby they should conquer and crush Rosecrans. I deem this of consequence enough to send by special messenger.

Your obedient servant,

S. A. HURLBUT,

Major-General.

 

Numbers 1. Report of Major General Charles S. Hamilton, U. S. Army.

MEMPHIS, TENN., February 25, 1863.

GENERAL: The cavalry of General Dodge, under command of Colonel [F. M.] Cornyn, attacked Tuscumbia and rear of Van Dorn’s column of Sunday, the 22nd instant, at 4 a. m.; captured one piece of artillery, 100 prisoners, 200 horses, a large amount of stores, including a train of cars and 100 bales of C. S. Army cotton, considerable money, and a large number of mules.

Colonel Cornyn and his command have swum creeks and rivers; have operated during all these terrible storms, and are now following the enemy into the mountains; officers and men behaved splendidly, and all are entitled to warmest praise for perseverance and daring gallantry.

Scouts have arrived from the interior of Mississippi during the last twenty-four hours, and all report the enemy rapidly evacuating Vicksburg. He is moving everything to the eastward, and the talk is that all are going to re-enforce the army opposed to Rosecrans, now commanded by Joseph [E.] Johnston, Bragg having been removed. Price’s forces are on the east side of the Black River.

* * * * * *

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. S. HAMILTON,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 362

O.R., I, xxiii, part 1, 63-4

O.R., I, xxiii, part 2, 87

“The Queen of the West is now at Warrenton, with the rebel flag flying”

Feb 25 1863.  The Rebels have turned our captured vessel against us.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

BEFORE Vicksburg, MISS.,

February 25, 1863-12. 30 a. m.,

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief:

The Queen of the WEST is now at Warrenton, with the rebel flag flying. Distant firing was heard, lasting from 4 p. m. yesterday until 1 this morning. It is supposed to have been between the Queen and Indianola. Apprehension is felt for the safety of the Indianola.

U. S. GRANT.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 358-9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, 18

“Vigorous measures will have to be adopted to prevent the smuggling going on from Memphis”

Feb. 22, 1863.  The smuggling of arms from Memphis must be stopped.  I wrote Gen. Hurlbut,

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, February 22, 1863.

Major-General HURLBUT,

Comdg. SIXTEENTH Army Corps:

GENERAL: So soon as all the rolling-stock of the railroad is got away from Columbus, the road north from Jackson may be abandoned, disposing of the troops guarding it as your judgment may dictate. I directed General Hamilton to have all workshops, depots of stores, and everything not required by the troops removed from all posts between Grand Junction and Corinth, via Jackson, to points intended to be permanently occupied, so that, in case of necessity, this part of the road may be abandoned and the troops removed to wherever their services may be required. I do not want Jackson abandoned, however, except in case of absolute necessity.

If Colonel Lee is perfectly satisfied that some of his men are being punished, as described in his report, by rebel authority, he may serve in the same manner an equal number of the enemy, and open a correspondence with General Tilghman, as he proposes.

I will want one DIVISION of troops brought forward and held in readiness to join this expedition when called for.

I sent orders some time ago for the SECOND Illinois Cavalry to be forwarded here without delay. As they have not come, I presume my order never reached you. They may now be held for further orders.

If the six 8-inch howitzers at Memphis have not yet been sent here, they need not be sent, but forward them to Corinth, with all the ammunition belonging to them. The First Infantry will come here, as per orders.

General McClernand’s army corps is deficient in artillery. I have not the returns before me to designate any particular battery to be sent, but I want on with heavy guns-Parrotts, if possible-forwarded as soon as possible.

Vigorous measures will have to be adopted to prevent the smuggling going on from Memphis, but I do not know what to suggest. This I leave to your own judgment.

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

U. S. GRANT.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 348-9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 63

“The enemy having captured one of our arms … makes it necessary for our security to have a battery of Parrott guns below Vicksburg”

Feb 21 1863.  I have been informed by Admiral Porter that one of our ships, the Queen of the West, has been captured by the Rebels.  I wrote Gen. Sherman,

BEFORE Vicksburg, February 21, 1863.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Comdg. Fifteenth Army Corps:

The enemy having captured one of our arms, with all her armament, and having several other armed vessels below here, makes it necessary for our security to have a battery of Parrott guns below Vicksburg. If practicable, I would like to have this battery placed below Warrenton. In this case the battery should be supported by a brigade of infantry.

There would necessarily be some difficulty in supplying troops there, but as the country will afford forage, and a plank road will be made across the point, in the canal embankment, I think it can be done.

U. S. GRANT.

P. S. -Captain Prime is directed to locate and build the battery required, and roads leading to it.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 345

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 61-2

Gen. Hurlbut: “It having been ascertained that Hopefield is a mere shelter for Guerrillas, I ordered the place burned”

Feb 20 1863. I received the following report from Gen. Hurlbut informing me of Rebel Guerrilla activity and weapons smuggling being carried out from Memphis.

Three days since the rebel Guerrillas at Hopefield surprised the Tow Steamer Hercules which had gone in to the Arkansas Shore in a dense fog—killed one of the crew & burned the Boat & a Barge of Coal. It having been ascertained that Hopefield is a mere shelter for Guerrillas, I ordered the place burned—which was done on yesterday—
Sixteen or 17 Horses were captured which no parties there would own, quite a number of Cavalry Saddles & other evidences of the haunts of the Guerillas—one Barn in burning blew up with a quantity of concealed powder
I have stopped all communication with Arkansas for the present I have consulted with Genl Veatch as to the possibility of barricading the Streets & roads leading into Memphis & we unite that it can only be effectually done by cutting the bridges across Gayoso Bayou on such roads as may be selected—This however will leave outside of barricades a large portion of the suburbs of Memphis.
With the immense depots & Hospitals here both for the Army & Navy & the certainty that this point is to be a base of supplies it will require in my judgment an entire Division to cover this city so as to prevent the terrible smuggling which is now going on. The Effects of it are perfectly demoralizing. Bribery & corruption seem to go into every branch of service and the actual cases of which proof can be made are only, I am afraid, symptoms of a wide spread disease.
I have sure information that Richardson’s Guerrillas have been supplied with Revolvers from this City. I propose to day to forbid any arms whatever being exposed or kept for sale in the command.
Major Mudd supported by 2 Regts of Genl Quimby’s command made a dash on Blythe captured twelve & ran the rest off to Coldwater, but they come back as fast as our troops are withdrawn. As soon as the Roads become decent I think of putting a Brigade in near Horn Lake in the country infested by the Guerrillas & let them eat them out. The Country is rich in forage & provisions.
Col: Webster informs me that the R. Road will be completed to day or tomorrow. It will soon be broken up again somewhere in the O’Bion country I think. The cavalry Expedition south starts to day or to morrow. I have heard nothing of importance from Dodge or from the Tennessee.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 349
National Archives, RG 94, War Records Office, Dept. of the Mo.

“The work upon the canal here is progressing as well as possible”

Feb 18 1863.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, MISS.,

February 18, 1863.

General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: The work upon the canal here is progressing as well as possible, with the excessively bad weather and high water we have had to contend against. Most of the time that troops could be out at all has been expended in keeping water out for our camps. Five good working days would enable the force here to complete the canal 60 feet wide, and of sufficient depth to admit any vessel here. Judging from the past, it is fair to calculate that it will take from ten to twelve days to get those five days. Three more, perhaps, should be allowed, from the fact that the work is being done by soldiers, the most of whom, under the most favorable circumstances, could not come up to the calculations of the engineer officers.

McPherson’s army corps is at Lake Providence, prosecuting the work there. They could not be of any service in helping on the work here, because there are already ad many men as can be employed on it, and then he would have to go 5 or 6 miles above to find land above water to encamptom. I am using a few hundred contrabands on the work here, but have been compelled to prohibit any more coming in. Humanity dictates this policy.

Planters have mostly deserted their plantations, taking with them all their able-bodied negroes and leaving the old and very young. Here they could not have shelter nor means of transportation when we leave.

I have sent a DIVISION of troops from Helena to join the Yazoo expedition under Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson. His last report was sent you a few days ago. If successful, they will destroy the railroad bridges at Grenada and capture or destroy all the transports in the Yazoo and tributaries.

The health of this command is not what is represented in the public journals. It is as good as any previous calculation could have prognosticated. I believe, too, that there is the best of feeling and greatest confidence of success among them. The greatest drawback to the spirits of the troops has been the great delay in paying them. Many of them have families at home who are, no doubt, in a suffering condition for want of the amount due them, and they are bound for their support.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 338-9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, 18

 

“If successful, they will clear out the Yazoo and all tributaries of all vessels that can do us any injury”

Feb 16 1863.  I have written Gen. Halleck to give him a report on our progress through the Yazoo pass.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, MISS., February 16, 1863.

Respectfully forwarded to the Headquarters of the Army, Washington, for the information of the General-in-Chief. There is a force now diligently at work clearing out Yazoo Pass, and four light-draught gunboats (one iron-clad) with the party. I am also sending an additional DIVISION of infantry, with a few pieces of artillery, without horses, to accompany the expedition. If successful, they will clear out the Yazoo and all tributaries of all vessels that can do us any injury, saving them for the Government, if possible, or as many of them as possible. The first attempt will be to ascend the Yalabusha to Grenada and destroy the railroad bridges there. The force now at Grenada is not large.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 333-4

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 376

“Let there be no delay in this matter. Time now is growing important.”

Feb 15 1863.  We are attempting to bypass the defenses of Vicksburg by sending an expedition from the Mississippi to the Yazoo River.  I sent instructions to Gen. Prentiss in Arkansas.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, February 15, 1863.

Brigadier General B. M. PRENTISS,

Commanding District of Eastern Arkansas:

GENERAL: I send, with this, steamers to take on board General Ross’ DIVISION, to be used with the Yazoo expedition. Inclosed with this you will find copy of a letter from me to Admiral Porter, upon which the admiral based his instructions to the vessels used in this expedition, and which I want to have carried out.

Please hand the letter to General Ross for his guidance.

The troops will take with them FIFTEEN days’ rations, a portion of their tents and cooking utensils, but no wagons. Where the steamers are adapted, one piece might be put on the bow of each.

If this expedition should succeed in getting into the Coldwater, I want General Ross to take with him all the force he starts from Helena with. To do this you will want to establish a small garrison at the mouth of Yazoo Pass from the remainder of your force. Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, topographical engineer, has been with the expedition all the time, and knows the wants, and where troops should be placed. Please fill all requisitions from him for troops or tools, as if from myself.

The only change I would make in the instructions already given is, that as soon as they arrive at the mouth of the Yalabusha they turn up that stream and take Grenada and destroy the railroad bridges there, before proceeding farther down the river. Let there be no delay in this matter. Time now is growing important.

General Ross should take with him all his axes and spades, and if he has not got a good supply, then he should be supplied, particularly with axes, from the remainder of your command.

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

U. S. GRANT.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 329-30

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 39