Mar 27 1863. I wrote Gen. Halleck, informing him of the latest setbacks.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, MISS.,
March 27, 1863.
General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, d. C.:
GENERAL: All work, excepting repairing the crevasse in the canal levee, has been suspended for several days, the enemy having driven the dredgers entirely out. The canal may be useful in passing boats through at night, to be used below, but nothing further.
Admiral Porter has returned from his attempt to reach the Yazoo River below Yazoo City. The difficult navigation of the bayous from the Yazoo River through Black Bayou and Deer Creek caused so much time to be consumed that the enemy got wind of the movement in time to blockade the creek just where the boats would leave it.
As the enemy occupied the ground in considerable force where they could prevent the clearing out of these obstructions, the admiral was forced to desist from further efforts to proceed when within a few hundred yards of clear sailing to the Yazoo. Rolling Fork and Sunflower are navigable, steamers having come by this route to within sight of our gunboats while they were in Deer Creek.
The moment I heard that Admiral Porter had started on his return, I sent orders for the return of the Yazoo Pass expedition from Fort Greenwood. From information I have, other and greater difficulties would be found be found in navigating the Yazoo below Greenwood. Considerable preparation has been made to receive our forces coming by that route.
I get papers and deserters frequently from Vicksburg, but am not able to arrive at any definite conclusion as to their numbers. I do not anticipate any trouble, however, if a landing can be effected.
On the morning of the 25th, General Ellet sent two rams-the Switzerland and the Lancaster-to join Admiral Farragut. The last named ram received a shot in the boiler long before reaching the front of the city. She floated down, however, receiving many more shots, but without materially further disabling her. She will be ready for service before to-morrow night, and is a fine vessel. The other boat received a shot, and immediately went to pieces. A large part, containing the machinery, tipped over, spilling it in the river. The wreck floated down and lodged at out lower pickets, bottom up. She was very rotten and worthless. The shot received would not have damaged a sound vessel seriously. This is what Admiral Farragut and army officers, who have examined the wreck, report to me.
Since no casualties occurred, it was fortunate that she is lost; for had she not been at this time, she might have been at some other time, when more valuable vessels might have been risked, relying on this boat for assistance. It is almost certain that had she made one ram into another vessel she would have closed up like a spy-glass, encompassing all on board.
I have just learned from a contraband (reliable) that most of the forces from Vicksburg are now up the Yazoo, leaving not to exceed 10,000 in the city to-day. The batteries are the same, however, and would cause the same difficulty in landing that would be experienced against a heavy force; besides, the very cause of the absence of so many troops from Vicksburg, our gunboats and troops in and toward the Yazoo, prevents our taking advantage of the circumstances. I have no doubt of the truth of my information, because it is substantiated by Southern papers and by deserters, so far as the sending of a large force up the Yazoo.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 478-9
O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, 23-4