“Every effort will be exerted to get speedy possession of Grand Gulf”

Apr 22 1863.  In preparation for the move against Grand Gulf, I am moving my headquarters south and preparing to run more ships past Vicksburg.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,


I move my headquarters to New Carthage to-morrow. Every effort will be exerted to get speedy possession of Grand Gulf, and from that point to open the Mississippi. If I do not underestimate the enemy, my force is abundant, with a foothold once obtained, to do the work. Six transports will run the Vicksburg batteries to-night.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 102

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

“Six steamers I hope will be ready to run the enemy’s batteries to-night”

Apr 20 1863.  More steamboats are making the run past the guns of Vicksburg.  This will allow Gen. McClernand to more rapidly ferry his troops across the Mississippi.  I wrote him,

MILLIKEN’S BEND, La., April 20, 1863.

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

Six steamers I hope will be ready to run the enemy’s batteries to-night. The cotton and hay for barricading a greater number is not on hand at present. These boats are now loaded and loading with 600,000 rations and a very considerable quantity of forage.

Barges will enter the bayou to-day with the expectation of getting through to Carthage by Tuesday night. A large number of yawls, barges, and tugs must be here in a day or two. In addition to this, there are some twelve steamers here that will be able to run the bayous when the work of clearing them out is completed.

General McPherson will keep closed up on you, but recollect that all the transportation of his army corps, as well as your own, is now being used to get through your supplies. I think no more wagons should be taken through except for transportation of ordnance stores. The steamers that run the blockade have about 160,000 rations on board and some forage. More will be going to-night. Direct the teams to stop at Richmond, and establish of supplies there.



Having made the decision to land at Grand Gulf, we must concentrate our forces below Vicksburg so that we can move them across the river in a timely manner.  I issued Special Orders No. 110,

Milliken’s Bend, La., April 20, 1863.

The following orders are published for the information and guidance of the army in the field in the present movement to obtain a foothold on the east bank of the Mississippi River, from which Vicksburg can be approached by practicable roads:

1. The Thirteenth Army Corps, Major General John A. McClernand commanding, will constitute the right wing.

2. The Fifteenth Army Corps, major General W. T. Sherman commanding, will constitute the left wing.

3. The SEVENTEENTH Army Corps, Major General James B. McPherson commanding, will constitute the center.

4. The order of march to New Carthage will be from right to left.

5. Reserves will be formed by DIVISIONS from each army corps, or an entire army corps will be held as a reserve, as necessity may require. When the reserve is formed by DIVISIONS, each DIVISION will remain under the immediate command of its respective corps commanders, unless otherwise specially ordered for a particular emergency.

6. Troops will be required to bivouac until proper facilities can be afforded for the transportation of camp equipage .

7. In the present movement one tent will be allowed each company for the protection of rations from rain; one wall tent fore each regimental headquarters, one wall tent for each brigade headquarters, and ne wall tent for each DIVISION headquarters. Corps commanders, having the books and blanks of their respective commands to provide for, are authorized to take such tents as they absolutely necessary, but not to exacted the number allowed by General Orders, Number 160, Adjutant-General’s Office, series 1862.

8. All the teams of the three army corps, under the immediate charge of the quartermasters bearing them on their returns, will constitute a train for carrying supplies and ordnance and the authorized camp equipage of the army.

9. As fast as the Thirteenth Army Corps advances, the SEVENTEENTH Army Corps will take its place, and in its turn be followed in like manner by the Fifteenth Army Corps.

10. Two regiments from each army corps will be detailed by corps commanders to guard the line from Richmond to New Carthage.

11. General hospitals will be established by the medical director between Duckport and Milliken’s Bend. All sick disabled soldiers will be left in these hospitals. Surgeons in charge of hospital will report convalescents as fast as they become fit for duty. Each corps commander will detail an intelligent and good drill officer to remain behind and take charge of the convalescents of their respective corps. Officers so detailed organize the men under their charge into squads and companies without regard to the regiment they belong to, and, in the absence of convalescent commissioned officers to command them, will appoint non-commissioned officers or privates. The force so organized will constitute the guard of the line from Duckport to Milliken’s Bend. They will furnish all the guards and details required for general hospital, and, with the contrabands that may be about camp, will furnish all details for loading and unloading boats.

12. The movement of troops from Milliken’s Bend to New Carthage will be so conducted as to allow the transportation of then days’ supply of rations and half the allowance of ordnance required by previous orders.

13. Commanders are authorized and enjoined to collect all the beef-cattle, corn, and other supplies necessary for the army on the line of march, but wanton destruction of property, taking of articles, unless for military purposes, insulting citizens, going into and searching houses without proper orders from DIVISION commanders, are positively prohibited. All such irregularities must be summarily punished.

14. Brigadier General J. C. Sullivan is appointed to the command of all the forces detailed for the protection of the line from here to New Carthage. His particular attention is called to General Orders, Number 69, Adjutant-General’s Office, Washington, D. C., of date March 20, 1863.

* * * * *

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:


Assistant Adjutant-General.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 96

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 212-4

“I hope very soon to be able to report our possession of Grand Gulf”

Apr 19 1863. I sent the following update to Gen. Halleck,

Milliken’s Bend, La., April 19, 1863.

General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I returned last night from New Carthage, at and near which place Admiral Porter’s fleet is lying (six iron-clads and the ram General Price), together with two DIVISIONS of General McClernand’s corps. The whole of his corps is between Richmond and New Carthage.

I had all the empty barges here prepared for the transportation of troops and artillery, and sent ten of them by the Vicksburg batteries with the fleet. While under the guns of the enemy’s batteries they were cut loose, and I fear that some of them have been permitted to run past New Carthage undiscovered. They were relied upon to aid in the transportation of troops to take Grand Gulf.

The wagon road from here to within 2 miles of New Carthage is good for artillery. From that point on the bayou, levee is broken in a number of places, making cross currents in the bayou; hence it is difficult to navigate with barges. I think, by using our dredges constantly, until there is 20 feet fall. On this subject, however, I have not taken the opinion of an engineer officer, nor have I formed it upon sufficient investigation to warrant me in speaking positively.

Our experiment of running the batteries at Vicksburg, I think, has demonstrated the entire practicability of doing so with but little risk. On this occasion our vessels went down even slower than the current, using their wheels principally for backing. Two of the steamers were drawn into the eddy, and ran over a part of the distance in front of Vicksburg three times. I shall send six more steamers by the batteries as soon as they can possibly be got ready.

I sent a dispatch to General Banks that I thought I could send an army corps to Bayou Sara to co-operate with him on Port Hudson by the 25th. This will now be impossible. There shall be no unnecessary delay, however, in my movements. I hope very soon to be able to report our possession of Grand Gulf, with a practicable and safe route to furnish supplies to the troops. Once there, I do not feel a doubt of success in the entire cleaning out of the enemy from the banks of the river.

At least three of my army corps commanders take hold of the new policy of arming the negroes and using them against the enemy with a will. They, at lest, are so much of soldiers as to feel themselves under obligation to carry out a policy which they would not inaugurate in the same good faith and with the same zeal as if it was of their own choosing. You may rely on me carrying out any policy ordered by proper authority to the best of my ability.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 91-2

O.R., I, xxiv, part , 30-1

“I would still repeat instructions, that possession be gotten of Grand Gulf at the very earliest possible moment”

Apr 18 1863. Gen. McClernand is asking for more transports to move his troops across the river.

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Smith’s Plantation, April 18, 1863.

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

GENERAL: I have the honor to call your attention to, and most earnestly urge upon your consideration the very great importance of placing at once below Vicksburg a sufficient number of transports to carry my whole command at once. This corps has now gained a position that will enable us to capture Grand Gulf and co-operate in the reduction of Port Hudson. With these points in our possession, the Mississippi open to New Orders, with the combined efforts of both armies and gunboat fleets, we shall be able to attack Vicksburg in front and rear, and soon it must fall into our hands; and, with its fate, a virtual end will be put to the war in the Southwest, and a hopeful prospect of putting a speedy end to the rebellion. But to use the advantages we have gained in taking our present position, no time must be allowed the enemy to prepare to meet us on the line of our present advance. A short delay here may endanger the certainty of our success, which must attend a rapid forward movement at this time.

The loss of a steamer, in running the blockade, will be nothing in comparison to what we may lose in the advantage we have now gained, the sickness of the men, and the loss of the campaign, which must be made in the next six weeks.

With a steam-tug or two, the quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance stores could be towed in flats from Richmond in a very few days, as it would shorten the hauling one-half. These boats would be invaluable at this time. The gunboats, not being under your control, cannot be relied on for the transportation of troops, while, at the same, time they can render move valuable service in transporting the army.

In every point of view, the, the importance of placing a number of transports below Vicksburg immediately cannot be overestimated, and I submit that a sufficient number should at once be sent down.

Your most obedient servant,

JOHN A. McClernand.

He has a point.  The longer it takes to move the troops, the more time the Rebels will have to attack us when we are at our most vulnerable.  I replied,

SMITH’S PLANTATION, La., April 18, 1863.

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

I would still repeat instructions, that possession be gotten of Grand Gulf at the very earliest possible moment. Once there, no risk should be taken in following the enemy until our forces are concentrated. Troops first there should intrench themselves for safety, and the whole of your corps concentrated as rapidly as our means of transportation will permit. General McPherson will be closing upon you as rapidly as your troops can be gotten and rations supplied.

I see that great caution will have to be observed in getting barges past the crevasse near New Carthage, and I apprehend a loss of some artillery may be encountered.

I will send over at once the pontoon train, with men to lay it. It can at least be thrown across Bayou Vidal, opposite your headquarters, to enable troops and artillery to march a good portion of the way to Carthage. If it can possibly be laid so as to cross the levee crevasse near Carthage, it would be of much greater service. Should we succeed in getting steamers past Vicksburg, they will bring you a further supply of rations. In the mean time, all

the wagons, including all the regimental trains, should be kept constantly on the road between here and Milliken’s Bend. The number of wagons available is increasing daily. Troops guarding the different points between here and Richmond should gather all

beef-cattle and forage within reach of them, and destroy no more they can use. I will be over here in a few days again, and hope it will be my good fortune to find you in safe possession of Grand Gulf.

You do not want to start, however, without feeling yourself secure in the necessary transportation.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 88-89

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 205

“much more work is to be done to make it navigable”

In traveling between Milliken’s Bend and New Carthage, LA, I noted that the route through the bayous was very treacherous.  All of the supplies for the Army of the Tennessee must pass through this route to avoid the guns of Vicksburg.  The road must be improved.  I sent a letter to Lt. Col. Rawlins, directing him to assign this task to Gen. McPherson.

Richmond Louisiana

April 17th 1863.

Lt. Col. J. A. Rawlins A. A. Gen Dept. of the Ten. Col.
Riding along the bayou through which a channel must be made teaches that much more work is to be done to make it navigable. Instruct Prime & Pride to call for all the force they can possibly work and distribute them to the best advantage. Call on McPherson to ride over the road himself and put that in the best order he can and also give every assistance to clearing out the bayou. Pride should have every saw that it is possible to rig at work with men enough to keep them constantly going.

Very respectfully

U. S. Grant

Maj. Gen. Com


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 87-88

Rosenbach Foundation, Philadelphia PA

“Seven gunboats and three transports ran the Vicksburg batteries last night.”

Apr 17 1863.  Adm. Porter has successfully run his fleet past the guns of Vicksburg with the loss of only one ship, the Henry Clay.  I received the following report from Gen. McClernand,

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, In the Field, near New Carthage, La., April 17, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT:

GENERAL: At 7 o’clock this morning the wreck of the steamer Henry Clay was seen floating past New Carthage, on fire. At the same time three barges were seen passing. Without any other than small craft, I sent these into the stream, and succeeded in bringing to shore two of the largest, one partially laden with coal, the other lade with camp equipage, which had been put on board at Milliken’s Bend on the 15th instant. The THIRD barge, laden with coal, passed on, but was scuttled, it being out of my power to bring her in. Besides these, a number of sacks of grain, bales of hay, &c., were brought to.

About 12 m., eight gunboats, which had also run the blockade at Vicksburg, came to. Boarding the first arrival, I notified the commander, Captain Hoel, that there was a rebel camp at Perkins’ plantation, about 5 miles below Carthage, and requested him to push forward and shell it, while a detachment of my forces should pursue the fleeing enemy. He referred me to Rear-Admiral Porter, who, he said, would soon arrive in the gunboat Benton.

Soon after, Rear-Admiral Porter arrived on the Benton. I immediately called on him, and, requesting him to do so, he sent forward the gunboat Tuscumbia to shell the hostile camp, which was done. In the mean time General Osterhaus sent forward a detachment of the NINTH DIVISION to pursue and harass the enemy, but with what effect has not yet been reported. I also informed the admiral that a vessel, supposed to be a hostile one, was seen at Perkins’ plantation the evening before, and that it would be advisable to cruise the river for a distance below Carthage; and, pointing out to him the hulk of the Indianola, I suggested to him the importance of an examination, to ascertain whether she could not be raised and made seaworthy.

Your obedient servant,

JOHN A. McClernand.


I sent a telegram to Gen. Halleck in Washington informing him.

MEMPHIS, TENN., April 17, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,


Seven gunboats and three transports ran the Vicksburg batteries last night. The crew of the steamer Henry Clay, excepting the pilot, deserted soon after getting under fire. The boat took fire and burned up. One other transport slightly damaged. One man killed and 3 wounded on the Benton. No further casualties reported. A number of barges were also sent.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 82-3, 85

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 200-1

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 30

” There has been great delay and neglect in … getting ready the barges”

Apr 15 1863.  Adm. Porter’s flotilla was not able to run past the batteries of Vicksburg last night.  I received the following report from the Admiral,

I was in hopes we would have gotten off last night, but no transports reported. Looking at them this morning I see they have made but little progress since yesterday at four o’clock. I would like to get off as soon as possible, for the longer we delay, the more guns and troops they will have at Grand Gulf. I am sure they know all about our move. The cars were running constantly all day yesterday and they are throwing troops some where, or else bringing them in. Will you let the transports report to me if possible, at 4 o’clock this afternoon, so that I can let the Captains see the orders on which they will go down River; and get away tonight if it is possible.

I wrote Gen. McClernand,

MILLIKEN’S BEND, La., April 15, 1863.

Major General John A. McClernand,

Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps:

Admiral Porter informs me that he can take in each of his vessels about 250 infantry. This will enable you to take about one DIVISION in addition to what the transportation sent around will take. There has been great delay and neglect in the quartermaster’s department in getting ready the barges, and the reports of progress I have received I find on a personal inspection have not been realized. There are not more than five barges ready to carry artillery on. In addition to these, you will have about three suitable for transporting infantry.

In loading troops on barges to be towed by steamers, great caution should be infused into the men to keep cool, and to avoid getting too much on one side, or, in other words, to keep the barges trimmed. It may possibly be that these vessels will not run the blockade to-night. If they do not, they will go to-morrow night, certain.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 80-81

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 194

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

“The present plan if not changed by the movements of the enemy will be to hold Grand Gulf”

I received the following letter from Gen. McClernand,

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Milliken’s Bend, La., April 13, 1863.

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

GENERAL: I think the contemplated expedition ought not to take less than 300 rounds of ammunition per man, which would give a total of 6,000,000 rounds for a force of 20,000 men. Deducting from this sum 60 rounds per man, to be carried by the soldier, the balance would be 4,800,000 rounds.

To transport this amount of ammunition 35 miles by land, from here to Carthage, would require three days in the present miry state of the roads, and 300 wagons. Not having more than 150 wagons that can be made available, it would require eight days to transport it, including two of one return trip. To transport 300 rounds per gun for ten six-gun batteries of different caliber, would require three days and at least 90 wagons, making in all for the transportation of both infantry and artillery ammunition thirteen days, including four days for two return trips.

To obviate this delay and to hasten the important movement in view, I would earnestly recommend that the estimated supply of ammunition for all arms be sent down in one or more gunboats. If the gunboats cannot be made available, then I would recommend that a transport be lade with ammunition and sent down. To avoid accident, I would place two barges filled with wetted baled cotton, so as to shield the bow on the exposed side and the stern of the transports; and if, notwithstanding this precaution, the cotton should be ignited by the fire of the enemy, the transport might be cut loose, and thus enabled to escape destruction.

Your most obedient servant,
JOHN A. McClernand.

P. S. -I would inquire whether some of the transports intended to run the blockade might not be used to carry camp and garrison equipage, and thus further relieve the land movement across to Carthage, over the worst possible road since the recent rains, o encumbrances and delays.


I replied,

Millikens Bend, La

April 13, 1863

Maj Gen J. A McClernand Comm’dg 13th Army Corps


I am having a complete map of the East bank of the Mississippi made for you, showing all the Streams and roads from Port Hudson to Vicksburg. I sent you a guide yesterday.

Instructions which I sent to your Headquarters and which you could not yet have received answers most of your note. It is not desirable that you should move in any direction from Grand Gulf, but remain under the protection of the Gunboats and free all the transportation for the concentration of troops at that place. The present plan if not changed by the movements of the enemy will be to hold Grand Gulf Send a force to cooperate with Banks to effect the reduction of that place and then move upon Vicksburg either by reaching Big Black Bridge or Jackson Miss.

If you should not return to the Bend, I will endeavor to see you at Carthage before you leave.

Make every facility you can for moving troops from Smiths plantation to Carthage and for shipping them there get all the ammunition you can through Until water communication is open with Carthage there will be more difficulty in getting through this supply than any other. I have explained in a former communication that provisions will be sent by the transports that run the blockade.


U. S. Grant

Maj Gen.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 63-4

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

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 190

“There is nothing in the way now of my throwing troops into Grand Gulf and destroying the works there”

I have written to Gen. Halleck informing him of our impending move across the Mississippi,

Milliken’s Bend, La., April 12, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: THERE is nothing in the way now of my throwing troops into Grand Gulf and destroying the works there, then sending them on to Port Hudson, to co-operate with General Banks in the reduction of that place, but the danger of overflowing the road from here to New Carthage when the water is let into the new canal connecting the river here with the bayous coming out at Carthage. One DIVISION of troops is now at Carthage and another on the way. By turning in the water to the canal, water communication can be opened between the two places in a very few days for barges and tugs. Of the former I have but fifteen as yet, and of the latter but three suitable for this navigation. To use this route, therefore, it is absolutely necessary to keep open the wagon road to take over artillery and to march the troops.

In about three nights from this time Admiral Porter will run the Vicksburg batteries with such of his fleet as he desires to take below, and I will send four steamers, the machinery protected from shot by highballs and sand-bags, to be used in transporting troops and in towing barges.

The wagon road, by filling up the lowest ground (this work must now be nearly completed), will be about 20 inches above the water in the swamps. The river, where it is to be let into the canal, is 4. 09 feet above the land. This, however, is 15 miles, by the river, below where the dirt road back country, I should not doubt the effect would be to overflow the whole country through which we pass; but there has been a large crevasse just below where this canal leaves the river for a long time, through which the water has been pouring in great volume. I cannot see that this additional crevasse is going to have much other effect than to increase the breaks in the bayou levees, so as to make the discharge equal to the supply. I will have a map of this section made to send you by next mail, which will make this more intelligible.

The embarrassments I have had to contend against on account of extreme high water cannot be appreciated by any one not present to witness it. I think, however, that you will receive favorable reports of the condition and feeling of this army from every impartial judge and from all who have been sent from Washington to look after its welfare.

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




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 53-4

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 29

“On Tuesday or Wednesday night, Admiral Porter will run the Vicksburg batteries”

Apr 12 1863.  I sent a letter to Gen. McClernand outlining the plan for moving his troops across the river.

MILLIKEN’S BEND, La., April 12, 1863.

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

I was anxious to have seen you and had a conversation upon present movements before your leaving, if I could have done so. I will, however, probably go over to New Carthage before you get away.

On Tuesday or Wednesday night, Admiral Porter will run the Vicksburg batteries, and I will send, at the same time, four steamers and all the barges then ready, probably twelve. If these all get through safely, you will have 300,000 rations aboard, and transportation, by close packing, for two batteries and from 6,000 to 8,000 men. It is desirable that you should take all the men possible, with the transportation at your hands, on the start.

It is my desire that you should get possession of Grand Gulf at the earliest practicable moment. Concentrate your entire corps there with all rapidity, and, as soon as transportation can be got through for them, move down the river to Bayou Sara. From there you can operate on the rear of Port Hudson, in conjunction with Banks from Baton Rouge. I will write to General Banks, to be sent down by the gunboats, informing him of present plans, and timing our movements as near as possible.

It is expected that General Banks will garrison Port Hudson with a few troops, and, with the remainder of his effective force, come up to co-operate in the reduction of Vicksburg. This will give us increased facilities for moving troops from New Carthage to Grand Gulf.

I wanted particularly to see you about the facilities for getting troops from Smith’s plantation to New Carthage and the chances for embarking them; also to consult upon the probable effects of letting the water into the canal, upon the levees between Richmond and Carthage.

The water will be let in on Monday or Tuesday. You will want to have your men guard against all contingencies. As water is now flowing through the same channels, in great volume, from various crevasses, commencing just below the canal, I cannot see that this new cut is going to have much effect. We must be prepared for the effect, however, whatever it may be. I have been more troubled to know how to supply you with ammunition, until water communication is established, than on any other subject. If roads hold good, there will be no difficulty, but, without them, there will be. It is not safe to send by the river, as we do coal.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 56-7

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 188-9