“There has been some delay in the attack unavoidable on my part.”

Mar 30 1863.  I wrote Julia,

Dear Julia,
Col. Hillyer, Fred. & Willie arrived here all safe last night having had a tedious trip on account of the storm. They were obliged to lay up at Lake Providence. Fred, is looking well and seems as happy as can be at the idea of being here. I have not had an opportunity of talking to him alone yet. You can stay at Memphis as well as any other place until the fate of Vicksburg is settled. There has been some delay in the attack unavoidable on my part. I hope to be ready soon however. Once landed on the other side of the river I expect but little trouble.
I never enjoyed better health or felt better in my life than since here. The weather however will soon begin to grow warm and unpleasant.
I have but little to write about that would interest you. Fred. is also writing and says he will write twice each week. I will require Fred, to read and study his arithmetic. I will not be able to hear his lessons much however. I am sorry Buck did not come down to stay as long as Col. Hillyer does!—I sent Jess, a Silver dollar by Orly. He must keep that as that kind of money is scarce. Tell Jess that as soon as he gets on his Maj. Gen. shoulderstraps he can order Col. Hillyer in Irvin Block.^ Col. Hillyer will be afraid of him. He must not scare “Old Blowhard” though.
Tell Col. Lagow to go home if it will benefit him. I would like to see him back here well as soon as possible but he can go wherever his health would be the most improved in the mean time.
Kisses for yourself and children dear Julia.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p  490-1

“I can run the blockade with steamers sufficient to land troops … either at Grand Gulf or Warrenton”

Mar 29 1963.  I have determined that the only way to make progress against Vicksburg is to land troops downriver from it, somewhere near Warrenton.  I have ordered troops to begin creating a road to New Carthage.  Once the troops are there, we will need boats to take them across the river.  I wrote Adm. Porter,

BEFORE Vicksburg, March 29, 1863.

Admiral DAVID D. PORTER, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron:

I am about occupying New Carthage with troops, and opening the bayous from here to that place sufficiently for the passage of flats, a number of which I have ordered from Saint Louis. With this passage open, I can run the blockade with steamers sufficient to land troops, with the aid of flats, either at Grand Gulf or Warrenton, whichever seems most promising. Under these circumstances, is it not absolutely essential that Warrenton and Grand Gulf should be so controlled by gunboats as to prevent further fortifications?

It looks to me, admiral, as a matter of vast importance that one or two vessels should be put below Vicksburg, both to cut off the enemy’s intercourse with the WEST bank of the river entirely and to insure a landing on the east bank for our forces, if wanted.

Will you be good enough, admiral, to give this your early consideration, and let me know your determination? Without the aid of gunboats it will hardly be worth while to send troops to New Carthage, or to open the passage from here there.

Preparatory surveys for doing this are now being made.


He replied,

UNITED STATES Mississippi SQUADRON, Yazoo River, March 29, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Comdg. Department of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: I am ready to co-operate with you in the matter of landing troops on the other side, but you must recollect that, when these gunboats once go below, we give up all hopes of ever getting them up again. If it is your intention to occupy Grand Gulf in force, it will be necessary to have vessels there to protect the troops or quiet the fortifications now there. If I do send vessels below, it will be the best vessels I have, and there will be nothing left to attack Haynes’ Bluff, in case it should be deemed necessary to try it. It will require some little preparation to send these vessels below. Coal and provisions are wanted; they cannot well do without.

With the force Farragut now has, he can easily dispense with one vessel to patrol the coast as far as Grand Gulf while we are preparing this thing. I will come over and see you. I have been quite unwell all night, and not able to move about much. Before making a gunboat move, I should like to get the vessels back from the Yazoo Pass expedition.

Very truly, yours,



Area around Vicksburg

Area around Vicksburg


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 486

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 151-2

“Heretofore I have had nothing to do but fight the enemy. This time I have to overcome obstacles to reach him”

I wrote Julia,

Dear Julia,
I do not know where a letter will reach you but will venture to send it to the care of Col. Hillyer at Memphis.
I am very well but much perplexed. Heretofore I have had nothing to do but fight the enemy.
This time I have to overcome obstacles to reach him. Foot once upon dry land on the other side of the river I think the balance would be of but short duration. I am now looking for Fred home. Was your visit to Cincinnati disagreeable.? I have had no letter from you since you left Memphis but heard of you at Cincinnati.

It would be a great holiday for me to have one month to myself.

Just here Dr. Holston come in with a message from you. I am glad you and the children all look so well.

Did you keep my black coat ? I looked for it last night and find it is not in there.

The health of the troops is good here.

Rawlins & Staff generally are well. Lagow is in Memphis. I am afraid it will be a long time before he gets strong again.

Remember me to Col. & Mrs. Hillyer.

Kisses for yourself and children.

Good bye Dear Julia.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 479-80

“I do not anticipate any trouble, however, if a landing can be effected.”

Mar 27 1863.  I wrote Gen. Halleck, informing him of the latest setbacks.

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.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 478-9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, 23-4

Col. Woods: “the Ram Lancaster was totally destroyed this morning in passing the Vicksburg batteries”

Mar 26 1863.  I have been forwarded a letter from Col. Woods informing me that the attempt to run transports past Vicksburg was unsuccessful.

I have the honor to inform you, that the Ram Lancaster was totally destroyed this morning in passing the Vicksburg batteries & that the Monarch received an eighty four pound shot in her boiler & had one of her steam pipes cut. the extent of the damage cannot yet be ascertained on account of the heat. I think it will take three or four days at least if not ten days to repair her. Admiral Farragut seems to think that the troops can be landed from the Gun Boats & the place destroyed. I do not feel so sanguine on the subject, as landing troops in small boats under the most favorable circumstances, is necessarily slow work, & the enemy would have time to reinforce the place to any extent I send Maj Warner with this dispatch in order to receive orders, if it is determined to push this matter it will be necessary to have Rations as our Rations run out to day after dinner. Please indicate to Maj Warner what is to be done & if additi[on]al rations are required he will attend to having them got down to the canal Owing to the disaster to the Rams I was obliged to keep my men under the Levy near the crevasse until near ten Oclock, & in removing them to the shelter of the wood above this place it was impossible to keep them entirely concealed from the enemy, & I think it more than likely that they are aware of our intended movement.


This, plus the reports of troops moving from Vicksburg to Warrenton, unfortunately means that an amphibious assault on that place is no longer feasible.  I wrote Adm. Farragut,

BEFORE Vicksburg, March 26, 1863.

Admiral DAVID G. FARRAGUT, Comdg. Gulf Squadron:

Your note of yesterday is just received. In regard to attacking Warrenton, I do not know now what to say. When I first learned that twelve to FIFTEEN yawls would be required, I called on General Ellet for them. The general being over to see you, no reply was received (except from his adjutant-general, that he thought they had that number) until the general’s return in the evening, when he informed me that it was arranged for the rams and Hartford to transport the troops; no small boats would be required. After learning again that small boats would be required, I again called on General Ellet for them, and only learned after dark that, after the losses of the vessels with the rams, he could not furnish them. I then sent for the boats belonging to the transport fleet, and found that not more than two could be gotten. By this time so much of the night was consumed that I could not call upon the navy with any prospect of getting them through in time to be used this morning. About 9 o’clock last night, I learned that a force of apparently about 1,500 men left Vicksburg in the direction of Warrenton. I communicated this fact to Colonel Woods, and left it for you and himself, who would probably have better means of knowing the destination of these troops, to judge what course was best to pursue. With a little lower stage of water, I would endeavor to occupy New Carthage. This occupied, and one gunboat from this fleet below the city, the enemy could be kept out of Warrenton, and also from taking supplies from a rich country that can be reached through bayous with flat-boats on this side of the river. I see by Southern papers, received yesterday, that Vicksburg must depend upon Louisiana or WEST of the Mississippi for supplies. Holding Red River from them is a great step in the direction of preventing this, but it will not entirely accomplish the object. New Carthage should be held, and it seems to me that, in addition, we should have vessels sufficient below to patrol the whole river from Warrenton to the Red River. I will have a consultation with Admiral Porter on the subject. I am happy to say the admiral and myself have never yet disagreed upon any policy.

I am looking for a mail in to-day, and should one arrive with later dates of papers than you have already been furnished with, I will send them over.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 471-3

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 147-8

“I am just informed that to insure success of the enterprise against Warrenton, ten or twelve small boats will be required”

Mar 25 1863.  To aid Adm. Farragut in the attack on Warrenton, we will need a way to shuttle troops across the river.  I wrote to Gen. Ellet, commander of the Marine Brigade, to run boats past the batteries of Vicksburg to provide that transport.  I had hoped this would be accomplished last night, but I have not yet heard the result of this mission.

Brigadier-General ELLET, Comdg. Marine Brigade:

I am just informed that to insure success of the enterprise against Warrenton, ten or twelve small boats will be required. May I request that you furnish that number? If it is intended to send a ram past Vicksburg to-night, they could be sent by her; if not, by sending them down the canal to-night to the lower end, Colonel Woods, who will command the expedition, and who is now there, will get them. I will see that these boats are returned.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 469-70

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 136

“The expedition by the way of Yazoo Pass seems to have come to a dead-lock at Greenwood”

Mar 24 1863.  I wrote Adm. Porter to ask his opinion of Adm. Farragut’s suggestion that we unite with Gen. Banks and capture Port Hudson.

BEFORE Vicksburg, March 23, 1863.

Admiral DAVID D. PORTER, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron:

Troops were promptly sent to Eagle Bend, on the Mississippi River, just where the bayou makes for the river to Steele’s Bayou, and have made a good road across. It is not practicable to keep a large force on the land there, but there will be constantly as many as the boat suitable for navigating Steele’s Bayou can ferry. I have no more boats of the class required here to send. The expedition by the way of Yazoo Pass seems to have come to a dead-lock at Greenwood. More forces are on the way to them, but I doubt of their being of any service. Colonel Wilson, in whose judgment I place great reliance, writes that land forces cannot act until the batteries are silenced. He thinks, too, that there has been unnecessary delay in reaching that point. By Admiral Farragut I received dispatches from General Banks. The general writes that he has advanced to near Port Hudson with all the forces he could spare for the expedition, about 20,000 of all arms. But as the enemy have 30,000 or over, and are fortified, he cannot expect to take the place. I have written back by Admiral Farragut, who will leave to-morrow, and report the position of our naval and military forces at this time and the practicability of sending an army corps by the way of Lake Providence to co-operate with him, but that we had not at present the transports or the gunboats suitable for this expedition. I have sent instructions to General Quinby, who now commands the Yazoo Pass expedition, to push down the river and destroy the enemy’s fleet if possible, but to return immediately if he does not deem this practicable. He will confer with the naval commanders in this matter. It is now perfectly practicable for such vessels as we have in the Yazoo to get into Bayou Macon.

The latter has always been reported as a navigable stream. With the return of either of the expeditions now in or near the Yazoo, I could send such a force as to insure the fall of Port Hudson. With the fall of that place, Banks could move up with, says, 15,000 men, besides all I would send him, and take every point to Warrenton without detention. I submit this to you, admiral, for your views, whether it would not be advisable to get out all the forces we have attempting to gain possession of the Yazoo River, and use them in the way here indicated.

I will heartily co-operate with you in the present enterprise so long as you deem it advisable to push it. Troops may have seemed slow in reaching you after your call, but all was due to the natural obstacles in the way of their reaching you earlier. I sent them promptly to Eagle Bend, having no more transports suitable to the navigation of the bayou, but the land the Mississippi to Steele’s Bayou was found covered with water, and had to be bridged. This is now done, and there is no difficulty in getting them up there.

Please let me hear from you by Major Bowers, of my staff, who bears this.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 459-61

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 132-3

“I have made really but little calculation upon reaching Vicksburg by any other than Haynes’ Bluff”

Mar 22 1863.  I have received a report from Gen. Sherman.  The expedition up Steele’s Bayou was a failure.  The Rebels toppled trees to block the passage of the ironclads, and only Gen. Sherman’s haste to their aid prevented them from being destroyed by the enemy.  I wrote him,

BEFORE Vicksburg, March 22, 1863.

Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Comdg. Fifteenth Army Corps:

Your report, and also Admiral Porter’s, were received yesterday. As the admiral called for more troops to protect him, I immediately ordered McPherson to send down one DIVISION of his command.

I regret that the chances look so gloomy for getting through to the Yazoo by that route. I had made so much calculation upon the expedition down Yazoo Pass, and now again by the route proposed by Admiral Porter, that I have made really but little calculation upon reaching Vicksburg by any other than Haynes’ Bluff.

As soon as the admiral can get his gunboats back for service, I will concentrate all my forces and make a strike. Finding that we fail in reaching the east bank of the Yazoo upon the route you have gone, there is nothing further to do with troops where you are than to guard the gunboats, and return when they do. What difficulty is in the way of reaching the Yazoo by going down Deer Creek?



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 455-6

O.R., I, xxiv, part3, 127

“Admiral Porter is in Deer Creek, or possibly in the Yazoo, below Yazoo City. I hope to hear from him this evening.”

Mar 21 1863.  I sent the following response to Adm. Farragut’s request for coal.

BEFORE Vicksburg, March 21, 1863.

Admiral D. G. FARRAGUT, Comdg. Gulf Squadron:

Hearing nothing from Admiral Porter, I have determined to send you a barge of coal from here. The barge will be cast adrift from the upper end of the canal at 10 o’clock to-night. Troops on the opposite side of the point will be on the lookout, and, should the barge run into the eddy, will start it adrift again.

Admiral Porter is in Deer Creek, or possibly in the Yazoo, below Yazoo City. I hope to hear from him this evening. As soon as I do, I will prepare dispatches for General Banks, and forward them to you. I have sent a force into the Yazoo River by the way of Yazoo Pass. Hearing of this force at Greenwood, MISS., and learning that the enemy were detaching a large force from Vicksburg to go and meet them, determined Admiral Porter to attempt to get gunboats in the rear of the enemy. I hope to hear of the success of this enterprise soon.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 443

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 123

Adm. Farragut: “By my trip up the river I have become perfectly acquainted with the enemy’s forces on the banks”

Mar 20 1863.  I received the following request from Adm. Farragut.  His assistance would be of considerable use in our operations on the Mississippi.

U. S. FLAG-SHIP HARTFORD, March –, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding United States Forces, Vicksburg:

SIR: I herewith transmit to you, by the hand of my secretary, a dispatch from Major General N. P. Banks. It was sent up to me the evening I was pass the batteries at Port Hudson.

Having learned that the enemy had the Red River trade open to Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and that two of the gunboats of the upper fleet had been captured, I determined to pass up, and, if possible, recapture the boats and stop the Red River trade, and this I can do most effectually if I can obtain from Rear-Admiral Porter or yourself coal for my vessels. By my trip up the river I have become perfectly acquainted with the enemy’s forces on the banks and his boats in the adjacent waters. I shall be most happy to avail myself of the earliest moment to have a consultation with yourself and Rear-Admiral Porter as to the assistance I can render you at this place; and, if none, then I will return to the mouth of Red River and carry out my original design.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 443-4

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 104-5