Porter: “I would like to know if the transports will be ready to go with me, and how many.”

Apr 11 1863.  I just received the following letter from Adm. Porter.  He has been ordered to relieve Adm. Farragut’s ships from patrolling the Mississippi so they can be of use elsewhere.

FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK, Yazoo River, April 11, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT, &c., Milliken’s Bend:

I have received a communication from the Department which will compel me to go below the batteries with the fleet sooner than I anticipated. I would like to know if the transports will be ready to go with me, and how many. I would also urge the importance of throwing as many troops as possible without delay into Grand Gulf, that we may capture the guns there, and not let them mount them somewhere else.

I can take the troops all in the —-, at Carthage, and be upon the rebels at Grand Gulf before they know it, shell them out, and let the troops land and take possession.

Very truly,

DAVID D. PORTER.

We will have to accelerate our time table.  I wrote Gen. McClernand,

A dispatch just received from Admiral Porter informs me that he has received ord[ers] from Washington which compel him to run below the Vicksburg batteries sooner than he had contemplated. He desires me to have troops enough at Carthage to take down and possess Grand Gulf at once before the enemy can take away their guns and plant them elsewhere.

I have been pushing the preparatio[ns] on the transports to run the blockade, with all dispatch. Will go down to-day to see how many of them can be got off. The transports will have aboard from sixty to one hundred thousand rations each. With this the force necessary to take can be supplied until our new route is opened. I will go down to Young’s Point directly and in the earliest mome[nt] these boats can be got off, their number etc. and on my return write out the necessary instructions. The great amount of both land and water transportation that is required to move the 1st Infantry, I would direct that they be left behind to go when preparations are more complete.

Very respectfully

U. S. Grant

Maj. Gen. Comd’g.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 47-8

O.R., I, xxiv, Part 3, 186

National Archives, RG 393, 13th Army Corps, Letters Received.

Ninety-Eight Days, Warren E. Grabau, p 74-5

 

“The movements spoken of previously … you may make so as to effectively cooperate with Rosecrans”

Apr 10 1863.  I have received a letter from Gen. Hurlbut again proposing a series of troop movements in Northern Mississippi and Alabama.  This will have the effect of drawing troops away from Vicksburg, so I endorse it.  I wrote him,

 

Millikens, Bend La

April 10, 1863

Maj Gen S. A. Hurlbut Comm’dg 16th Army Corps
The movements spoken of previously and now in your letter of the 7th, brought by Gen Lee you may make so as to effectively cooperate with Rosecrans, and without reference to movements here.
At the present Stage of water it is impossible to make any move from Hellena or here to go in South of Ponola Your movements will therefore be somewhat independent of anything here. I could be ready to move here in four days but for the Stage of Water. One foot lower would enable me to keep the wagon road open from here to New Carthage over which to inarch my troops and Artillery. As it is, I fear when the water is let into the canal now ready, the water will cover this road.
The Marine Brigade was not directed to report at Memphis but to proceed to Hamburg on the Tennessee and cooperate with Genl Dodge. I thought my letter to you explained this. It was my meaning that when this Brigade passed Memphis, you could form a better opinion of the time when they would likely reach Hamburg, than I could, and inform Genl Dodge so that he might have some one on the look out for them.
U. S. Grant

Maj Gen.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 41

Library of Congress-USG, V, 19, 30;

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

“Suppress the entire press of Memphis for giving aid and comfort to the enemy”

Apr 9 1863.  Reports of our planned movements are being freely distributed by members of the Press.  If we are to maintain any sort of operational secrecy, this must come to an end.  I wrote Gen. Hurlbut in Memphis,

 

Head Quarters, Dept. of the Ten. Millikin’s Bend, La,
Apl. 9th/63
Maj. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, Comd.g 16th Army Corps,
Gen.

Suppress the entire press of Memphis for giving aid and comfort to the enemy by publishing in their columns every move made here by troops and every work commenced. Arrest the Editors of the Bulletin and send him here a prisoner, under guard, for his publication of present plans via New Carthage & Grand Gulf.
I am satisfied that much has found its way into the public press through that incorrigibly gassy man Col. Bissell of the Eng. Regt. I sent him to you thinking he could not do so much harm there as here. His tongue will have to be tied if there is anything going on where he is which you don’t want made public. I feel a strong inclination to arrest him and trust to find evidence against
him afterwards.
Very respectfully
U. S. Grant
Maj. Gen Com

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 37-38

Sherman: “I make these suggestions with the request that General Grant simply read them”

Apr 8 1863.  I have been handed the following letter from Gen. Sherman, expressing his reservations about the current plan of action.  I have already discussed this in person with him, and I have resolved to continue.

CAMP near Vicksburg, April 8, 1863.

Colonel John A. RAWLINS, Asst. Adjt. General to General Grant:

SIR: I would most respectfully suggest, for reasons which I will not name, that General Grant call on his corps commanders for their opinions, concise and positive, on the best general plan of campaign. Unless this be done, there are men who will, in any result falling below the popular standard, claim that their advice was unheeded, and that fatal consequences resulted therefrom. My own opinions are-

1. That the Army of the Tennessee is far in advance of the other grand armies.

2. That a corps from Missouri should forthwith be moved from Saint Louis to the vicinity of Little Rock, Ark., supplies collected while the river is full, and land communication with Memphis opened via Des Arc, on the White, and Madison, on the Saint Francis Rivers.

3. That as much of Yazoo Pass, Coldwater, and Tallahatchee Rivers as can be gained and fortified be held, and the main army be transported thither by land and water; that the road back to Memphis be secured and reopened, and, as soon as the waters subside, Grenada be attacked, and the swamp road across to Helena be patrolled by cavalry.

4. That the line of the Yalabusha be the base from which to operate against the points where the Mississippi Central crosses Big Black, above Canton, and, lastly, where the Vicksburg and Jackson Railroad crosses the same river. The capture of Vicksburg would result.

5. That a force be left in this vicinity, not to exceed 10,000 men, with only enough steamboats to float and transport them to any desired point; this force to be held always near enough to act with the gunboats, when the main army is known to be near Vicksburg, Haynes’ Bluff, or Yazoo City.

6. I do doubt the capacity of Willow Bayou (which I estimated to be 50 miles long and very tortuous) for a military channel, capable of supporting an army large enough to operate against Jackson, MISS., or Big Black River Bridge; and such a channel will be very valuable to a force coming from the west, which we must expect. Yet this canal will be most useful as the way to convey coal and supplies to a fleet that should navigate the reach between Vicksburg and Red River.

7. The chief reason for operating solely by water was the season of the year and high water in Tallahatchee and Yalabusha. The spring is now here, as soon these streams will be on serious obstacle, save the ambuscades of the forest, and whatever works the enemy may have erected at or near Grenada. North Mississippi is too valuable to allow them to hold and make crops.

I make these suggestions with the request that General Grant simply read them, and simply give them, as I know he will, a share of his thoughts. I would prefer he should not answer them, but merely give them as much or as little weight as they deserve. Whatever plan of action he may adopt will receive from me the same zealous co-operation and energetic support as though conceived by myself.

I do not believe General Banks will make any serious attack on Port Hudson this spring.

I am, &c.,

W. T. SHERMAN.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 13-14

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 179-80

“Sherman then expressed his alarm at the move I had ordered”

Apr 7 1863.

When General Sherman first learned of the move I proposed to make, he called to see me about it. I recollect that I had transferred my headquarters from a boat in the river to a house a short distance back from the levee. I was seated on the piazza engaged in conversation with my staff when Sherman came up. After a few moments’ conversation he said that he would like to see me alone. We passed into the house together and shut the door after us. Sherman then expressed his alarm at the move I had ordered, saying that I was putting myself in a position voluntarily which an enemy would be glad to manoeuvre a year—or a long time—to get me in. I was going into the enemy’s country, with a large river behind me and the enemy holding points strongly fortified above and below. He said that it was an axiom in war that when any great body of troops moved against an enemy they should do so from a base of supplies, which they would guard as they would the apple of the eye, etc. He pointed out all the difficulties that might be encountered in the campaign proposed, and stated in turn what would be the true campaign to make. This was, in substance, to go back until high ground could be reached on the east bank of the river; fortify there and establish a depot of supplies, and move from there, being always prepared to fall back upon it in case of disaster. I said this would take us back to Memphis. Sherman then said that was the very place he would go to, and would move by railroad from Memphis to Grenada, repairing the road as we advanced. To this I replied, the country is already disheartened over the lack of success on the part of our armies; the last election went against the vigorous prosecution of the war, voluntary enlistments had ceased throughout most of the North and conscription was already resorted to, and if we went back so far as Memphis it would discourage the people so much that bases of supplies would be of no use: neither men to hold them nor supplies to put in them would be furnished. The problem for us was to move forward to a decisive victory, or our cause was lost. No progress was being made in any other field, and we had to go on.

 

Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt XXXVII, p 364-5

“About the only loyalty in this region is possessed by the mules and contrabands”

Apr. 5, 1863.  If we are to transport our army down the land route along the Mississippi, we will need more transportation.  I wrote Gen. Hurlbut in Memphis,

Head Quarters, Dept. of the Ten. Before Vicksburg,
Apl. 5th 1863.
Maj. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, Comd.g 16th Army Corps,
Gen.
I send three Steamers to be returned loaded with land transportation left at Memphis by the troops now in the field. I wish them to be sent down with as little delay as possible with from one hundred to one hundred & fifty wagons and harness complete, and so many of the mules as it may be convenient to load on the steamers.
Mules for all the wagons sent is not desirable as there is now a surplus on hands here and the country is full of them ready to go to work for the Union. About the only loyalty in this region is possessed by the mules and contrabands.
Very respectfully
U. S. Grant
Maj. Gen. Com

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 25-6
National Archives, RG 94, War Records Office, Military Div. of the Miss.

“It is no part of my present intentions to bring back the troops you have sent to Carthage ever by the route they went over”

I have received the following note from Gen. McClernand.  He has moved his troops into Richmond from Milliken’s Bend, swept away a small Rebel force and is pushing down the Roundaway Bayou towards New Carthage on the Mississippi.

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Milliken’s Bend, La., April 4, 1863.

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

GENERAL: I have occupied Richmond, approached within 2 miles of New Carthage, and pursued the enemy down Bayou Vidal until he crossed it, 7 miles below, and was arrested by the enemy taking with him or destroying the means of crossing after him. He is understood to have sought refuge on Saint Joseph Lake. The enemy referred to is a portion of [I. F.] Harrison’s cavalry troop, which in all is represented to consist of about seven companies. Meantime I have built an excellent floating bridge, 200 feet long, across Roundaway Bayou at Richmond.

Yesterday evening, after some search, I found an old skiff, and made a reconnaissance from Smith’s plantation, toward Carthage. A levee had extended along Bayou Vidal, from its junction with Roundaway, 2 miles to Carthage. This levee is broken in three places. I crossed all the crevasses except the last two, which brought me within a few hundred yards of Carthage, and in full view of that place and the Mississippi River. When I had approached so near the town, the enemy’s pickets fired upon me and came very near hitting me. One of the balls whistled between the members of my little party, which consisted of General Osterhaus, Lieutenant-Colonel Warmoth, and 3 or 4 infantry-men. The last crevasse intervened between us and the enemy’s picket. Besides my force here, I have two regiments at Richmond, one at Holmes’ plantation, about half way between Richmond and Smith’s plantation (in rear of Carthage), and two regiments of infantry and some ten small companies of cavalry, with four mountain howitzers, at Smith’s plantation. This is the present disposition of my forces, covering a distance of some 30 miles. All this has been accomplished within three days. The communication by land from here to Smith’s (2 miles from Carthage) is good.

To-day I started small boats down the Roundaway, from New Carthage to Smith’s, to ascertain the navigable capacities of the stream, but have not heard the result. Any number of troops could comfortably encamp within 2 miles of Carthage. To overcome these 8 miles is the point. If a steamer could pass through the mouth of Bayou Vidal or the mouth of Harper’s Bayou, just above Carthage, or through the bayou still above, from Duckport to Smith’s, and transport troops to Carthage, that would be one way. If piles could be driven and a way made over the crevasses in the levee, that would be another way. I have sent an engineer to-day to examine with reference to the latter, and write this communication specially to request you, if, upon the statement of the case, you think proper, to send a small steamer either by the river, the canal, or the Duckport Bayou, to test the former. If you determine to send a boat, please signal me to that effect. She should be accompanied by an armed vessel, under instructions to shell Carthage, and the fire of the vessel should be obliquely up or down the river, so as to avoid the camp of my troops in the rear. General Osterhaus will recognize the whistle of the vessel to be sent by replying with three shots from a mountain howitzer, two minutes intervening between the first two shots and three minutes between the SECOND and THIRD shots.

It is represented that there is but little more dry land than the levee affords at Carthage, and above and below for some miles; nevertheless, as I have already said, there is fine camping ground for an army back of Carthage, where it could wait for transportation to the river and across the river. My forces now near Carthage are drawing supplies from the adjacent country. If it is intended that they shall remain there for some days or a longer time, please advise me at once, so that I may order forward supplies. It is but just that I should bear testimony to the activity and zeal displayed by General Osterhaus, Colonel Bennett and Captain Patterson, of the pioneers, and all the officers and men who have participated in the achievement of the results mentioned and to the success that has attended their efforts.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN A. McClernand.

 

I replied,

Head Quarters Dept. of the Ten. Before Vicksburg,

Apl. 4th 1863.

Maj. Gen. J. A. McClernand, Comd.g 13th Army Corps,

Gen.

Your note of this evening is just received and read. As I shall move up to Millikens Bend to-morrow to remain it will not be necessary for me to enter into any particular directions. I will state however that it is no part of my present intentions to bring back the troops you have sent to Carthage ever by the route they went over. You can prepare therefore for supplying them where they are and also for sending the remainder of the Division so soon as you can see the way clear for supplying them. The canal from here into Walnut Bayou can be completed in a few days for the passage of small boats and in two weeks for tugs and barges. On the subject of sending boats below I will tell you my preparations to-morrow.

I am glad to hear of your success in reaching New Carthage and in finding such good roads.

You can be the judge of the necessity of sending Osterhaus’ other Brigade to him, but if they can be supplied it probably would be better to send it.

Very respectfully

U. S. Grant

Maj. Gen. Com

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 19-20

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 170-1

 

“This is the only move I now see as practicable, and hope it will meet your approval.”

Apr 4 1863.  I have written Gen. Halleck, informing him of my plan to cross the Mississippi below Vicksburg.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg,

April 4, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

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

GENERAL: By information from the south, by way of Corinth, I learn that the enemy in front of Rosecrans have been re-enforced from Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and a few from Vicksburg. They have also collected a cavalry force of 20,000 men. All the bridges eastward from Savannah and north from Florence are being rapidly repaired. Chalmers is put in command of Northern Mississippi, and is collecting all the Partisan Rangers and loose and independent companies of cavalry that have been operating in this department. He is now occupying the line of the Tallahatchee. This portends preparation to attack Rosecrans, and to be able to follow up any success with rapidly, also to make a simultaneous raid into WEST Tennessee, both from Northern Mississippi and by crossing the Tennessee River. To counteract this, Admiral Porter has consented to send the Marine Brigade up the Tennessee River to co-operate with General Dodge at Corinth. I have also ordered an additional regiment of cavalry from Helena into WEST Tennessee. I inclose with this a letter from Major-General Hurlbut, giving a program, which he wishes to carry out, and so much of it as to drive the enemy from the Tallahatchee and cutting the roads where they have been repaired, I think can be successfully executed. I will instruct him not to scatter his forces so as to risk losing them. I have placed one DIVISION of troops on Deer Creek, with communication back to the Mississippi River, just above Lake Washington. The object of this move is to keep the enemy from drawing supplies from that rich region (and use them ourselves) and to attack the attention of the enemy in that direction. The navigation is practicable for our iron-clads and small steamers through to the Yazoo River, by the route lately tried by Admiral Porter, with the exception of a few hundred yards in Deer Creek, near Rolling Fork. This was obstructed by the enemy, and they are now guarding and fortifying there. This move will have a tendency to make them throw in an additional force there and move some of their guns. My forces had as well be there as here until I want to use them. A reconnaissance to Haynes’ Bluff demonstrates the impracticability of attacking that place during the present stage of water. The WEST bank of the river is densely wooded and is under water. The east bank only runs up to the bluff for a short distance below the raft, then diverges, leaving a bottom widening all the way down, in most part covered by water, and all of it next to the bluffs so covered. The hillsides are lined with rifle pits, with embrasures here and there for field artillery. To storm this, but a small force could be used at the outset.

With the present batteries of the enemy, the canal across the point can be of but little use. There is a system of bayous running from Milliken’s Bend, and also from near the river at this point, that are navigable for barges and small steamers passing around by Richmond to New Carthage. The dredges are now engaged cutting a canal from here into these bayous. I am having all the empty coal and other barges prepared for carrying troops and artillery, and have written to Colonel [Robert] Allen for some more, and also for six tugs to tow them. With these it would be easy to carry supplies to New Carthage, and for any point south of that.

My expectation is for a portion of the naval fleet to run the batteries of Vicksburg, whilst the army moves through by this new route. Once there, I will move either of these points there are good roads to Vicksburg, and from Grand Gulf there is a good road to Jackson and the Black River Bridge without crossing Black River.

This is the only move I now see as practicable, and hope it will meet your approval. I will keep my army together, and see to it that I am not cut off from my supplies, or beaten in any other way than in fair fight. The discipline and health of this army is now good, and I am satisfied the greatest confidence of success prevails.

I have directed General Webster to commence the reconstruction of the railroad between Grand Junction and Corinth. The labor will be performed by the engineer regiment and contrabands, thus saving additional expense. The streams will be crossed on piles. In this way the work should be done by the first of May.

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

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 6, p 11-12

O.R. I, xxiv, part 1, 25-26

“I left Fred, behind on the steamer. He was quite disappointed.”

I wrote Julia,

Apl. 3d 1863,
Dear Julia,
Fred and I have just returned from a trip fifteen miles up the river where we had quite a horseback ride. He enjoys himself finely and I doubt not will receive as much perminant advantage by being with me for a few months as if at school. He has written several letters since he arrived only one of them to you however. It is now so near time for the mail to start that he cannot write to-night.
Two days ago Fred, went up the Yazoo with me on a reconnoisance. We went as far on an ordinary steamer as it was safe to go and then took an Iron clad Gunboat. I left Fred, behind on the steamer. He was quite disappointed.
I sent to Buck by Capt Osband a lot of views taken at Holly- springs for him to look at through his sterioscope. I hope he has not left it behind. I believe I wrote you that my black coat is not in my trunk! Have you got it? It is hard to tell when the final strike will be made at Vicksburg. I am doing all I can and expect to be successful.
Staff are all well. You see so many people direct from here that you get all the news. How is Col. Dickey? I ought to write to him but I have so much of this to do, officially that I never write anything not absolutely necessary. Remember me to the Col.
Fred, and myself send love and kisses to all of you.
Good night dear Julia.
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 9-10

“I heartily approve of the move you propose.”

Apr 3 1863.  I have received the following letter from Gen. Hurlbut proposing a movement from his base in northern Mississippi towards the south.

April 1, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT,

Young’s Point:

GENERAL: THE present situation of the enemy’s forces is submitted to you: Brigadier General S. A. [M.] Wood, commanding Northern Alabama, headquarters Florence; about 4,000 men, mostly mounted; two batteries artillery; pickets along line of Bear Creek. Colonel [C. R.] Barteau’s brigade of cavalry, lately re-enforced; headquarters Verona; pickets to Baldwyn. Next Ham and [W. C.] Falkner, each a regiment of cavalry, extending along line of Tallahatchee; pickets north of Holly Springs (Falkner, however, is now at Panola). Brigadier-General Chalmers, commanding Northern Mississippi, headquarters at Panola. [T. W.] Ham, McGirk [John McGuirk], [W. W.] Faulkner, [G. L.] Blythe, and [R. V.] Richardson, and all roving bands are ordered to report to Chalmers. He has one six-gun battery at Panola and one behind the Tallahatchee, near Abbeville. On east side of the river, Cox, Roddey, and a portion of Van Dorn’s force are in Hardin, Wayne, and other counties. They is every indication of a raid to be made soon on our lines of communication.

I absolutely need another regiment of cavalry at once for General Dodge; with that furnished me, a good regiment with good horses, I will move from Corinth, La Grange, and this place simultaneously, sweeping round from Corinth to Pontotoc, from La Grange straight down the ridge, with three regiments, throwing one in above Oxford, and cutting the Mississippi Central; the other by Okolona, and perhaps to Columbus, now lightly guarded, cutting that road, while Grierson, with his regiment, would proceed by forced marches to Selma of Meridian. Both Selma and Meridian have few troops. To break the Chunkey River or Pearl River Bridge would be my object. Their rolling stock is reduced and wearing out, as Barney informs me, and they limit trains to 10 miles an hour. They are drawing supplies from Noxubee and other counties of Mississippi, and conscripting relentlessly. As part of this movement, I will send from La Grange or Holly Springs a brigade of infantry and some artillery, and destroy the Tallahatchee Bridge, now being repaired, and break up the car-wheels and axles left there at the time of our withdrawal, which are of vast service to them. I shall also move a force to the left of Panola from this place, so as to keep Chalmers quiet or drive him back toward Grenada.

I dislike to make this movement without more cavalry for Dodge, as he is the most exposed of any point. I therefore urgently request an-other regiment to be sent me at once. If none can be spared from below, I will go on with what I have as soon as I receive your orders.

Your obedient servant,

S. A. HURLBUT,

Major-General.

Even if unsuccessful, this will provide a good distraction as I prepare my troops to cross the Mississippi.  I replied,

Before Vicksburg,

April 3. 1863.

Maj. Gen. S. A: Hurlbut, Com’d’g. 16th Army Corps

Your communication of the 1st is received. I heartily approve of the move you propose. I have ordered Washburne to take command of all the Cavalry in your command. It may be organized into a Division of Brigades, composed according to your own judgement, with Gen. Washburne’s Headquarters where you think the most appropriate.

I have ordered Prentiss to send you another regiment without delay, and send one Steamer to him to facilitate its movements. You will also ask Admiral Porter to send the Marine Brigade up the Tennessee river, with instructions to report to Dodge, and cooperate with him.

U. S. Grant.

Maj. Gen.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 6-7

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 26-7