“McClernand’s corps and one division of McPherson’s corps were speedily landed”

Apr 30 1863

Grand Gulf is on a high bluff where the river runs at the very foot of it. It is as defensible upon its front as Vicksburg and, at that time, would have been just as impossible to capture by a front attack. I therefore requested Porter to run the batteries with his fleet that night, and to take charge of the transports, all of which would be wanted below.

There is a long tongue of land from the Louisiana side extending towards Grand Gulf, made by the river running nearly east from about three miles above and nearly in the opposite direction from that point for about the same distance below. The land was so low and wet that it would not have been practicable to march an army across but for a levee. I had had this explored before, as well as the east bank below to ascertain if there was a possible point of debarkation north of Rodney. It was found that the top of the levee afforded a good road to march upon.

Porter, as was always the case with him, not only acquiesced in the plan, but volunteered to use his entire fleet as transports. I had intended to make this request, but he anticipated me. At dusk, when concealed from the view of the enemy at Grand Gulf, McClernand landed his command on the west bank. The navy and transports ran the batteries successfully. The troops marched across the point of land under cover of night, unobserved. By the time it was light the enemy saw our whole fleet, ironclads, gunboats, river steamers and barges, quietly moving down the river three miles below them, black, or rather blue, with National troops.

When the troops debarked, the evening of the 29th, it was expected that we would have to go to Rodney, about nine miles below, to find a landing; but that night a colored man came in who informed me that a good landing would be found at Bruinsburg, a few miles above Rodney, from which point there was a good road leading to Port Gibson some twelve miles in the interior. The information was found correct, and our landing was effected without opposition.

I had established a depot of supplies at Perkins’ plantation. Now that all our gunboats were below Grand Gulf it was possible that the enemy might fit out boats in the Big Black with improvised armament and attempt to destroy these supplies. McPherson was at Hard Times with a portion of his corps, and the depot was protected by a part of his command. The night of the 29th I directed him to arm one of the transports with artillery and send it up to Perkins’ plantation as a guard; and also to have the siege guns we had brought along moved there and put in position.

The embarkation below Grand Gulf took place at De Shroon’s, Louisiana, six miles above Bruinsburg, Mississippi. Early on the morning of 30th of April McClernand’s corps and one division of McPherson’s corps were speedily landed.

When this was effected I felt a degree of relief scarcely ever equalled since. Vicksburg was not yet taken it is true, nor were its defenders demoralized by any of our previous moves. I was now in the enemy’s country, with a vast river and the stronghold of Vicksburg between me and my base of supplies. But I was on dry ground on the same side of the river with the enemy. All the campaigns, labors, hardships and exposures from the month of December previous to this time that had been made and endured, were for the accomplishment of this one object.

 

Ulysses S Grant: Personal Memoirs, Chpt. xxxiii

“We have had terrific cannonading all day, without silencing the enemy’s guns”

Unfortunately, the ironclad fleet was unable to do enough damage to the guns of Grand Gulf to permit an infantry assault.  We must find a landing spot further downstream to land our troops.  Adm. Porter ran the transport fleet past Grand Gulf.  I wrote Gen. Sherman to begin the transfer of his corps to the planned embarkation point.

BELOW GRAND GULF, La., April 29, 1863.

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

We have had terrific cannonading all day, without silencing the enemy’s guns. Finding the position too strong, late in the day I decided to again run the blockade, which has been successfully done.

I shall be able to effect a landing to-morrow, either at the lower end of Grand Gulf or below Bayou Pierre, with all of McClernand’s corps and Logan’s DIVISION. Have also a SECOND DIVISION of McPherson’s command that can be landed next day.

Move up to Perkins’ plantation with two DIVISIONS of your corps as rapidly as possible. Leave the other DIVISION for the present to occupy from Young’s Point to Richmond, and to hasten up supplies and ordnance and Bingham, the public teams and barges, rations ought to get along to supply the army. The cavalry can collect beef-cattle and grain for some little time.

Direct the two regiments of cavalry brought down from Helena to move forward on this line, one to occupy from Richmond to Smith’s plantation and the other to come on to Perkins’ plantation.

U. S. GRANT.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 135

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 246

“I have been fretting here for several days to get ready to attack Grand Gulf”

I wrote Julia,

Perkins, Plantation La.

April 28th 1863

Dear Julia,
I have been fretting here for several days to get ready to attack Grand Gulf with weather roads and water all against me. I will however be ready to-day and possibly make the attack. Tomorrow morning at furthest will see the work commenced.
I feel every confidence of success but may be disappointed. Possession of Grand Gulf too I look upon as virtual possession of Vicksburg and Port Hudson and the entire Mississippi river.
Myself, Staff & Fred will be off in a little tug witnessing the Naval attack upon land batteries and the debarkation of troops to carry the heights. I feel very well but a good deal disgusted. The want of a servant to take care of my things and pack up when we leave any place has left me now about bare of some necessary articles. I am always so much engaged on starting from anyplace that I cannot look after things myself. Did you think to send Nicholas?
Be sure and attend to the business you went on as I directed. I hope John will not want to take $40 per acre for 40 acres more land because it is more than it would bring, for cash, and I do not want it. Then too there is still an encumbrance on the whole place that may have to be paid some day and is at least a defect in the title.
Give my love to all at your house. I have been intending to write to Emma for some time but somehow I am either too lazy or have too much to do. Tell her I think just as much of her as though I wrote every week.
You had better not return to Memphis until you hear of me in Vicksburg. You can then come on at once. After your business is finished in St. Louis you might make Nelly a short visit and then go to Galena or any place you like best. I do not like you to be at the Gayoso House without me.
Good bye
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 132-3

 

“I therefore leave it to you whether to make such a demonstration.”

Apr 28 1863.  One of my greatest worries about the coming attack on Grand Gulf is that Rebel Gen. Pemberton will move his troops from Vicksburg to oppose our landing.  I know that they are very sensitive to attacks along the Yazoo River and I have decided to offer the suggestion of a demonstration against the Rebel fortifications there to distract them.  I wrote Gen. Sherman,

SMITH’S PLANTATION, La., April 27, 1863.

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

If you think it advisable, you may make a reconnaissance of Haynes’ Bluff, taking as much force and as many steamers as you like. Admiral Porter told me that he would instruct Captain Breese to do as you asked him with his fleet.

The effect of a heavy demonstration in that direction would be good so far as the enemy are concerned, but I am loth to order it, because it would be so hard to make our own troops understand that only a demonstration was intended, and our people at home would characterize it as a repulse.

I therefore leave it to you whether to make such a demonstration.

If made at all, I advise that you publish your order beforehand, stating that a reconnaissance in force was to be made for the purpose of calling off the enemy’s attention from our movements south of Vicksburg, and not with any expectation of attacking.

I shall probably move on Grand Gulf to-morrow.

U. S. GRANT.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 130

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p240

“Commence immediately the embarkation of your corps”

Apr 27 1863.  I returned to Gen. McClernand’s camp at Perkin’s Plantation to find that he had ignored my order to board his troops on the transports.  I wrote a letter of reprimand, but decided to discard it when I saw that he had made good progress in organizing the camp and transports.  Instead, I reissued the order.

PERKINS’ PLANTATION, La., April 27, 1863.

Major General John A. McClernand, Comdg. Thirteenth Army Corps:

Commence immediately the embarkation of your corps, or so much of it as there is transportation for. Have put aboard the artillery and every article authorized in orders limiting baggage, except the men, and hold them in readiness, with their places assigned, to be moved at a moment’s warning. All the troops you may have, except those ordered to remain behind, send to a point nearly opposite Grand Gulf, where, you will see by Special Orders of this date, General McPherson is ordered to send one DIVISION.

The plan of the attack will be for the navy to attack and silence all the batteries commanding the river. Your corps will be on the river, ready to run to and debark on the nearest eligible land below the promontory first brought to view passing down the river. Once on shore, have each commander instructed beforehand to form his men the best the ground will admit of, and take possession of the most commanding points, but avoid separating your command so that it cannot support itself. The first object is to get a foothold where our troops can maintain themselves until such time as preparations themselves until such time as preparations can be made and troops collected for a forward movement.

Admiral Porter has proposed to place position indicated to you a few days ago, and to bring over with them such troops as may be below the city after the guns of the enemy are silenced.

It may be that the enemy will occupy [such] positions back from the city, out of range of the gunboats, as to make it desirable to run past Grand Gulf and land at Rodney. In case this should prove the plan, a signal will be arranged, and you duly informed when the transports are to start with this view. Or it may expedient for the boats to run past, but not the men. In this case, then, the transports would have to be brought back to where the men could land, and move by forced marches to below Grand Gulf, re-embark rapidly, and proceed to the latter place. There will be required, then, three signals to indicate that the transports can run down and debark the troops at Grand Gulf-one that the transports can run by without the troops, and the last that transports can run by with the troops on board.

Should the men have to march, all baggage and artillery will be left to run the blockade.

If not already directed, require your men to keep three days’ rations in their haversacks, not be touched until a movement commences.

U. S. GRANT.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 126-7

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 237-8

Ninety-Eight Days, Warren E. Grabau, p 89

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 81

It is his opinion that the Rebel fortifications at Grand Gulf are strong and getting stronger.

Apr 26 1863.  I visited Adm. Porter aboard the Benton.  It is his opinion that the Rebel fortifications at Grand Gulf are strong and getting stronger.  We must attack soon.  I went straight to Gen. McClernand at Mrs. Perkin’s plantation.  McClernand wanted to wait to launch an attack until his entire corps was present.  I told him time was of the essence and to immediately load both of his divisions that were at the plantation onto the waiting transports.

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 80

Ninety-Eight Days, Grabau, p 88

“I foresee great difficulties in our present position, but it will not do to let these retard any movements”

Apr 25 1863.  I accompanied Adm. Porter on a reconnaissance of Grand Gulf.  I think an attack will be successful.  I wrote Gen. Sherman to ask him to make preparations for our overland supply route.

IN THE FIELD, April 24, 1863.

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

In company with Admiral Porter, I made to-day a reconnaissance of Grand Gulf. My impressions are, that if an attack can be made within the next two days, the place will easily fall. But the difficulties of getting from here (Smith’s plantation) to the river are great.

I foresee great difficulties in our present position, but it will not do to let these retard any movements. In the first place, if a battle should take place, we are necessarily very destitute of all preparations for taking care of wounded men. All the little extras for this purpose were put on board the Tigress, the only boat that was lost. The line from here to Milliken’s Bend is a long one for the transportation of supplies and to defend, and an impossible one for the transportation of wounded men. The water in the bayous is falling very rapidly, out of all proportion to the fall in the river, so that it is exceedingly doubtful whether they can be made use of for the purpose of navigation. One inch fall in the river diminishes the supply of water to the bayous to a very great extent, while their capacity for carrying it away remains the same. Should the river fall sufficiently to draw off all the water on the points where you are encamped, our line will have to be by wagons across to below the Warrenton batteries.

Whilst there, I wish you would watch matters, and, should the water fall sufficiently, make the necessary roads for this purpose. You need not move any portion of your corps more than is necessary for the protection of the road to Richmond until ordered. It may possibly happen that the enemy may so weaken his forces about Vicksburg and Haynes’ Bluff as to make the latter vulnerable, particularly with a fall of water to give an extended landing.

I leave the management of affairs at your end of the line to you.

I shall send Surgeon Hewitt to the Bend to-morrow, to consult with the medical director about the best policy to pursue for caring for our sick and wounded.

U. S. GRANT.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 231

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 231

 

Adm. Porter: “They have 12,000 troops at Grand Gulf, and still increasing the number.”

Apr 24 1863.  Yesterday I received the following report from Adm. Porter informing me that the Rebels are fortifying Grand Gulf.

FLAGSHIP BENTON,
Off New Carthage, April 23,1863.
DEAR GENERAL: Feeling that something was going on at Grand Gulf that should be stopped, I went down with the whole squadron to reconnoiter. A strong fort (at present mounting three guns only) pointing up the river was a part of the extensive works now under way. I went down in the Lafayette and drove the workers out; that fort did not fire at us, but one below it did; also one lower still. Three rifled shot went over the Lafayette after I left. The rebels had a steamer (the Charm) down, bringing supplies. We drove her away before she had time to land them. These forts are only partly finished; in a week they will be formidable.

I found a preacher (half Union man), who was just from Grand Gulf. He told me all about the fortifications and the number of troops. They are throwing in troops from Vicksburg as fast as they can by land, and bringing down guns, etc., as fast as they can by water. There are four forts in all, well placed, and mounting 12 large guns. They have been preparing this place six weeks, and have known all about this move; expected it sooner.

I would have attacked had there been but two forts. I made my plans to do so, but considered it unwise to put myself in a position where I might be separated from the army, which might have happened under present circumstances. They have 12,000 troops at Grand Gulf, and still increasing the number. My informant tells me that they have plenty of beef and corn meal. They seem to have about 500 contrabands at work. I could see no more. My idea was to attack the forts at once and land troops at the same time, but I think we should have superior numbers, for the position is a very strong one. If the troops can get by we can land them below, and land on a road leading to the fort, or go up Bayou Pierre, which leads to the Port Hudson Railroad. As you know your own plan. I wont pretend to offer any suggestions. I merely give you the information I have obtained. I send you a little plan of the place.
Very respectfully,
DAVID D. PORTER.

 

I wrote to Gen. McClernand,

April 24th, 1863,
Maj Gen. J. A McClernand Comdg 13th. Army Corps.

General,

I would like to have Gen Ousterhaus make a reconnaissance, in person, to a point on the Mississippi opposite the mouth of Bayou Pierre, and a short distance below, to where there is a road leading from the river to Grand Gulf.  The map shows such a road. It is desirable to learn if there is a landing at that point, and if it can be done by inquiry to learn also the condition of the road on the opposite side. If a landing cannot be made in front of Grand Gulf it may be necessary to reach there by this route. The maps show this road, and also a road from the same point to Port Gibson. It is also important to know if there is a road on the west bank of the river from here to a point below Grand Gulf. Should any of our Gunboats get below the Gulf and not be able to return it could be used in communicating with them.
Very Respectfully
U. S. Grant
Major General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 113-5

O.R., I (Navy), xxiv, 605-6

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

“Six boats and a number of barges ran the Vicksburg batteries last night.”

Apr 23 1863.  We have managed to get more boats past Vicksburg.  I wrote to Gen. Halleck to inform him.

YOUNG’S POINT, La., April 23, 1863,

VIA MEMPHIS, TENN., April 25-1 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief:

Six boats and a number of barges ran the Vicksburg batteries last night. All the boats got by more or less damaged. The Tigress sunk at 3 a. m., and is a total loss. Crew all safe. The Moderator was much damaged. I think all the barges went through safely. Colonel C. B. Lagow, of my staff, was on the Tigress, in command of the fleet. Casualties, so far as reported, 2 men mortally wounded, and several (number not known) wounded, more or less severely. About five hundred shots were fired. I look upon this as a great success. At the Warrenton batteries there was heavy firing, but all the boats were seen to go past. What damage done there is not known.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 111

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 31