“I learn that a white captain and some negroes, captured at Milliken’s Bend … were hanged soon after at Richmond”

I just received a disturbing report of testimony from a rebel deserter. He claims that a white captain and several colored troops were captured at the recent battle at Milliken’s Bend and were executed afterwards by hanging.  This hanging was supposedly witnessed and sanctioned by Rebel Gen. Richard Taylor.  I sent him the following letter,

NEAR Vicksburg, June 22, 1863.

Brigadier General R. TAYLOR,

Commanding Confederate Forces, Delhi, La.:

GENERAL: Upon the evidence of a white man, a citizen of the South, I learn that a white captain and some negroes, captured at Milliken’s Bend, La., in the late skirmish at that place, were hanged soon after at Richmond. He also informs me that a white sergeant, captured by Harrison’s cavalry at Perkins’ plantation, was hung.

My forces captured some 6 or 8 prisoners in the same skirmish, who have been treated as prisoners of war, notwithstanding they were caught fighting under the “black flag of no quarter”

I feel no inclination to retaliate for the offenses of irresponsible persons, but if it is the policy of any general intrusted with the command of any troops to show “no quarter,” or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy toward black troops and officers commanding them, to that practiced toward white troops. If so, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The Government and all officers serving under the Government are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.

Colonel Kilby Smith, of the United States volunteer service, and Colonel John Riggin, assistant aide-de-camp, U. S. Army, go as bearers of this, and will return any reply you may with to make.

Hoping there may be some mistake in the evidence furnished me, or that the act of hanging had no official sanction, and that the parties guilty of it will be duly punished, I remain, your obedient servant,



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 400-401

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 424-5

“In that time they would have two thousand boats finished, and they could make their escape by the river”

Adm. Porter has raised the possibility that the Rebels in Vicksburg may attempt to escape by the river.  During the nights, our pickets and the enemy’s tend to engage in conversation to pass the time.  Last night, one of the enemy soldiers made comments that suggests Porter may be right. I wrote him,

NEAR Vicksburg, MISS., June 21, 1863.

Admiral DAVID D. PORTER, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron:

ADMIRAL: Information received from Vicksburg last night confirms your theory of the probable method Pemberton will take for escaping in the last extremity. One of our pickets and one of the enemy, by mutual consent, laid down their arms, met half way, and had a long conversation. The rebel said that our cannonading killed and wounded a great many in the rifle-pits; otherwise did no great damage. They fully counted upon an assault as being intended and were prepared for it. Finding that no assault was made, the feelings of the troops were canvassed to see if they could be got out to attack the Yankees. They not only declined this, but those on the right (our left) almost mutinied because their officers would not surrender. They were only reassured and persuaded to continue on duty by being told that they had provisions enough on hand to last seven days. In that time they would have two thousand boats finished, and they could make their escape by the river. The rebel said they were tearing down houses to get the materials out of which to build boats.

I will direct General Mower to keep a strong picket in the river in front of Vicksburg at night; to place his battery behind the levees or hold it in some good position, to be used if an attempt should be made to escape in that way. If possible, fix up material to light and illuminate the river, should a large number of boats attempt to cross. I will direct General Mower to call on you and consult as to the best plan for defeating this method of escape. You will find General Mower an intelligent and gallant officer, capable of carrying out any plan that may be adopted.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 398-9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 423-4


“a general cannonading will be commenced from all parts of the line on the city of Vicksburg”

Jun 19 1863.  I issued Special Orders No. 165,

near Vicksburg, MISS., June 19, 1863.

I. At 4 a. m. on the 20th instant, a general cannonading will be commenced from all parts of the line on the city of Vicksburg. Firing will continue until 10 a. m., unless otherwise directed.

II. Care must be taken to retain, for emergency, at least 100 rounds each for all the field artillery, and 20 rounds per gun for the siege guns.

III. All the rifle-pits will be filled with as many men as can be accommodated in them. Troops will be held under arms from 6. 30 a. m., ready to take advantage of any signs the enemy may show of weakness, or to repel an attack should one be made.

IV. It is not designed to assault the enemy’s works, but to be prepared. Should corps commanders believe a favorable opportunity presents itself for possessing themselves of any portion of the lines of the enemy, without a serious battle, they will avail themselves of it, telegraphing immediately to headquarters of other corps and to general headquarters what they are doing, and suggesting any assistance or co-operation they may require.

* * * * * * * *

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:


Assistant Adjutant-General.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 394

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 418-9

“Major-General McClernand is hereby relieved from the command of the Thirteenth Army Corps”

Gen. McClernand sent the following response to my letter from yesterday.

June 18, 1863.

Major-General GRANT:

I have just returned. The newspaper slip is a correct copy of my congratulatory order Number 72. I am prepared to maintain its statements. I regret that my adjutant did not send you a copy promptly as he ought, and I thought he had.

JOHN A. McClernand


I had no choice but to direct Lt. Col. Rawlins to issue the following order.


Number 164. near Vicksburg, MISS., June 18, 1863.

IV. Major-General McClernand is hereby relieved from the command of the Thirteenth Army Corps. He will proceed to any point he may select in the State of Illinois, and report by letter to Headquarters of the Army for orders. Major General E. O. C. Ord is hereby appointed to the command of the Thirteenth Army Corps, subject to the approval of the President, and will immediately assume charge of the same. By order of Major-General Grant:

Assistant Adjutant-General.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 385

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 103

“Inclosed I send you what purports to be your congratulatory address to the Thirteenth Army Corps”

I have been informed by Gens. Sherman and McPherson that Gen. McClernand has issued an address to his 13th Corps that does great injustice to the other soldiers who have fought in this campaign.  The address reads as follows:

Battle-field, in rear of Vicksburg, May 30, 1863.

COMRADES: As your commander, I am proud to congratulate you upon your constancy, valor, and successes. History affords no more brilliant example of soldierly qualities. Your victories have followed in such rapid succession that their echoes have not yet reached the country. They will challenge its grateful and enthusiastic applause. Yourselves striking out a new path, your comrades of the Army of the Tennessee followed, and a way was thus opened for them to redeem previous disappointments. Your march through Louisiana, from Milliken’s Bend to New Cartage and Perkins’ plantation, on the Mississippi River, is one of the most remarkable on record. Bayous and miry roads, threatened with momentary inundation, obstructed your progress. All these were overcome by unceasing labor and unflagging energy. The 2,000 feet of bridging which was hastily improvised out of materials created on the spot, and over which you passed, must long be remembered as a marvel. Descending the Mississippi still lower, you were the first to cross the river at Bruin’s Landing and to plant our colors in the State of Mississippi below Warrenton. Resuming the advance the same day, you pushed on until you came up to the enemy near Port Gibson. Only restrained by the darkness of night, you hastened to attack him on the morning of May 1, and by vigorously pressing him at all points drove him from his position, taking a large number of prisoners and small arms and five pieces of cannon. General Logan’s DIVISION came up in time to gallantly share in consummating the most valuable victory won since the capture of Fort Donelson.

Taking the lead on the morning of the 2nd, you were the first to enter Port Gibson and to hasten the retreat of the enemy from the vicinity of that place. During the ensuing night, as a consequence of the victory at Port Gibson, the enemy spiked his guns at Grand Gulf and evacuated that place, retiring upon Vicksburg and Edwards Station. The fall of Grand Gulf was solely the result of the victory achieved by the land forces at Port Gibson. The armament and public stores captured there are but the just trophies of that victory. Hastening to bridge the South Branch of the Bayou Pierre, at Port Gibson, you crossed on the morning of the 3rd, and pushed on to Willow Springs, Big Sandy, and the main crossing of Fourteen Mile Creek, 4 miles from Edwards Station. A detachment of the enemy was immediately driven away from the crossing, and you advanced, passed over, and rested during the night of the 12th within 3 miles of the enemy, in large force at the station.

On the morning of the 13th, the objective point of the army’s movements having been changed from Edwards Station to Jackson, in pursuance of an order from the commander of the department, you moved on the north side of Fourteen Mile Creek toward Raymond. This delicate and hazardous movement was executed by a portion of your number cover of Hovey’s DIVISION, which made a feint of attack in line of battle upon Edwards Station. Too late to harm you, the enemy attacked the rear of that DIVISION, but was promptly and decisively repulsed.

Resting near Raymond that night, on the morning of the 14th you entered that place, one DIVISION moving on to Mississippi Sprin, in support of General Sherman; another to Clinton, in support of General McPherson; a THIRD remaining at Raymond, and a fourth at Old Auburn, to bring up the army trains.

On the 15th, you again led the advance toward Edwards Station, which again more became the objective point. Expelling the enemy’s pickets from Bolton the same day, you secured and held that important position.

On the 16th, you led the advance, in three columns upon three roads, against Edward Station. Meeting the enemy on the way in strong force, you heavily engaged him near Champion’s Hill, and after a sanguinary and obstinate battle, with the assistance of General McPherson’s corps, beat and routed him, taking many prisoners and small arms and several pieces of cannon. Continuing to lead the advance, you rapidly pursued the enemy to Edwards Station, capturing that place, a large quantity of public stores, and many prisoners. Night only stopped you.

At day dawn on the 17th, you resumed the advance, and early coming upon the enemy strongly intrenched in elaborate works, both before and behind Big Black River, immediately opened with artillery upon him, followed by a daring and heroic charge at the point of the bayonet, which put him to rout, leaving eighteen pieces of cannon and more than 1,000 prisoners in your hands.

By an early hour on the 18th, you had constructed a bridge across the Big Black, and had commenced the advance upon Vicksburg.

On the 19th, 20th, and 21st you continued to reconnoiter and skirmish until you had gained a near approach to the enemy’s works.

On the 22nd, in pursuance of the order from the commander of the department, you assaulted the enemy’s defenses in front at 10 a. m., and within thirty minutes had made a lodgment and planted your colors upon two of his bastions. This partial success called into exercise the highest heroism, and was only gained by a bloody and protracted struggle; yet it was gained, and was the first and largest success achieved anywhere along the whole line of our army. For nearly eight hours, under a scorching sun and destructive fire, you firmly held your footing, and only withdrew when the enemy had largely massed their forces and concentrated their attack upon you. How and why the general assault failed, it would be useless now to explain. The Thirteenth Army Corps, acknowledging the good intentions of all, would scorn indulgence in weak regrets and idle criminations. According justice to all, it would only defend itself. If, while the enemy was massing to crush it, assistance was asked for by a diversion at other points, or by re-enforcement, it only asked what in one case Major-General Grant had specifically and peremptorily ordered, namely, simultaneous and persistent attack all along our lines until the enemy’s outer works should be carried, and what, in the other, by massing a strong force in time upon a weakened point, would have probably insured success.

Comrades, you have done much, yet something more remains to be done. The enemy’s odious defenses still block your access to Vicksburg. Treason still rules that rebellious city, and closes the Mississippi River against rightful use by the Illinois who inhabit its sources and the great Northwest. Shall not our flag float over Vicksburg? Shall not the great Father of Waters be opened to lawful commerce? Methinks the emphatic response of one and all of you is, “It shall be so. ” Then let us rise to the level of a crowning trial. Let our common sufferings and glories, while uniting as a band of brothers, rouse us to new and surpassing efforts. Let us resolve upon success, God helping us.

I join with you, comrades, in your sympathy for the wounded and sorrow for the dead. May we not trust, nay, is it not so, that history will associate the martyrs of this sacred struggle for law and order, liberty and justice, with the honored martyrs of Monmouth and Bunker Hill?

JOHN A. McClernand,

Major-General, Commanding.


I immediately wrote Gen. McClernand to learn if the text of this address is correct.

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

GENERAL: Inclosed I send you what purports to be your congratulatory address to the Thirteenth Army Corps. I would respectfully ask if it is a true copy. If it is not a correct copy, furnish me one by bearer, as required both by regulations and existing orders of the Department.

Very respectfully,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 384-5

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 159-161

“Should the enemy attack Haynes’ Bluff … I will have to entirely uncover on the south side of the city”

June 15 1863.  I am having to balance the positions of my forces between guarding against an attack from Gen. Johnston and maintaining the siege of Vicksburg.  I wrote Gen. McClernand,

Near Vicksburg, MISS., June 15, 1863.

Major General John A. McClernand,

Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps:

A portion of the NINTH Army Corps, about 8,000 strong, have now arrived, and will take position on the south side of the city, thus making the investment complete. This will release General Herron, who is instructed to move to General Hovey’s place, thus contracting your front to the ground occupied by Smith and Carr.

Should the enemy attack Haynes’ Bluff in such force as to make it necessary to detach a greater force than has already been designated, i., e., the six reserve brigades of McPherson’s and Sherman’s corps, I will have to entirely uncover on the south side of the city. This will necessarily involve an exposure of our left flank from the garrison of Vicksburg. We should hold and fight the enemy wherever he presents himself, from the extreme right to your extreme left-that is, all the ground taken by the three army corps on first investing the city should be held.

Your left DIVISION is, or will be, replaced by one numerically stronger. By replacing it thus it gives you a reserve of three brigades. Lauman’s, with nearly 6,000 men, will also be there to strengthen you still further in this emergency.

I do not want to give up the front occupied by Lauman unless it should become absolutely necessary to do so, but give this as a plan to be adopted in case of the greatest pressure on the left. The idea, then, is, that two lines should now be selected running perpendicular to our present line, one from Lauman’s left, along Hall’s Ferry road, and one from Hovey’s present left. Should Parke’s command, the NINTH Corps, be removed, your reserve should at once be thrown on to the first line chosen on the Hall’s Ferry road. Should they be so hotly pressed as to make it necessary for them to fall back into the SECOND line, then Lauman’s DIVISION should be brought into it also. The very moment an order goes for the removal of the NINTH Corps you will be notified. You will then assume command of all the forces to the left of you in addition to your own corps.

Everything in the shape of ammunition, commissary stores, and other public property not required, should be got back to within what may possibly become our most contracted line.

Should the enemy attempt to get past your left, with the view of forming a junction with Johnston’s forces, he must be defeated. An attempt to leave his line, however, I do not look upon as probable. This would give us the city, and leave my whole force to act directly against the enemy, and as a last resort fall into his lines, and act on the defensive, behind works of his own building. This is given only as a general plan, to be adopted under certain circumstances. The movements of an enemy necessarily determine counter-movements.

After writing the foregoing, and after General Parke had moved one DIVISION of his command to opposite Warrenton, I had to change my plan and send him to Haynes’ Bluff. From information received, the enemy have 12,000 infantry and artillery at Yazoo, with orders to move south; four thousand cavalry already between the Yazoo and Big Black River, and Loring ordered to cross. This made it necessary to send the extra force up the Yazoo River.

You will assume command of Lauman’s DIVISION at once, Herron taking up part of the ground occupied by Lauman. The latter can better spare a garrison regiment to garrison Warrenton than any one else. I would not take a regiment from you for a garrison of Warrenton, but Herron has a long line to hold, and but eight regiments to do it with.

Lauman will be directed to report to and receive orders from you.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 368-70

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 409-10


Siege of Vicksburg, map courtesy of Hal Jespersen, cwmaps.com

Siege of Vicksburg, map courtesy of Hal Jespersen, cwmaps.com

“I now fear trouble on the opposite side of the river, between Lake Providence and Milliken’s Bend”

I wrote Gen. Halleck,

NEAR Vicksburg, MISS.,

June 11, 1863,



Re-enforcements other than from my own command are beginning to arrive. There is every indication that they may be required. The enemy occupy Yazoo City and Canton, with an entire DIVISION of cavalry on the ridge between the two rivers. I am fortifying Haynes’ Bluff, and will have a garrison there of 13,000 men, besides the ability to throw an equal amount more there in case of an attack, and still keep up the investment of Vicksburg. Kirby Smith is showing signs of working to this side of the river, either to operate against General Banks or myself. He may find difficulty in crossing the river, but the great number of bayous and little lakes within a short distance of shore in this region afford such facilities for concealing boats that the means of crossing an army may still be left to the rebels; particularly may this be the case about Natchez. I now fear trouble on the opposite side of the river, between Lake Providence and Milliken’s Bend.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 344

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 42

“he has been of very great service to the blacks in having them provided for when otherwise they would have been neglected”

Jun 11 1863.  I wrote to the president commending the fine work of Chaplain J. Eaton in caring for the population of freed slaves that have come into our lines.

Near Vicksburg Miss,

June 11th 1863.

Hon. a. Lincoln
President of the United States,

Enclosed herewith I send report of Chaplain J. Eaton, Gen. Supt. of Contrabands for this Department, embracing a very complete history of what has been done for, and with, this class of people within my command to the present time.
Finding that negroes were coming into our lines in great numbers, and receiving kind or abusive treatment according to the peculiar views of the troops they first came in contact with and not being able to give that personal attention to their care and use the matter demanded I determined to appoint a General Superintendent over the whole subject and give him such Assistants as the duties assigned him might require. Mr. Eaton was selected for this position. I have given him such aid as was in my power by the publication from time to time of such orders as seemed to be required, and generally at the suggestion of the Supt.
Mr. Eatons labors in his undertaking have been unremitting and skillful and I fear in many instances very trying. That he has been of very great service to the blacks in having them provided for when otherwise they would have been neglected, and to the government in finding employment for the negro whereby he might earn what he was receiving, the accompanying report will show, and many hundreds of visitors and officers and soldiers near the different camps can bear witness to.
I commend the report to your favorable notice and especially that portion of it which would suggest orders regulating the subject of providing for the government of the contraband subject which a Department commander is not competent to issue.
I have the honor to be very respectfully your obt. svt.

U. S. Grant Maj.

Gen. Vols.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 342-3

Library of Congress, Robert T. Lincoln

“You may start down as soon as you receive this letter”

Jun 9 1863.  I wrote Julia,

Dear Julia,
I wrote to you by every courier I was sending back up to the Capture of Jackson. Having written to you to start for Vicksburg as soon as you heard the place was taken, and thinking that would be before another letter would reach you, I wrote no more.
You may start down as soon as you receive this letter. If Vicksburg is not in our hands then you can remain on board the steamer at the landing with the prospect of my calling to gee you occasionally. I have enjoyed most excellent health during the campaign, so has Fred. Fred, has enjoyed his campaign very much. He has kept a journal which I have never read but suppose he will read to you.
The Pony, “Little Rebel,” which I have got for Miss & Jess, is the smallest horse I ever saw. I want you to get saddles for both the children. The saddle I had for Jess was a very old one and being rode by persons too large for it it broke to pieces and had to be thrown away.
I can tell you but little about matters here. We are up close to the enemy’s forts and so far as the present force is concerned we must capture them. The enemy however may make a desperate effort to get a force outside of me to relieve the present garrison. If they do I occupy one of the strongest imaginable positions. I have ordered all the troops from West Tennessee that can possibly be spared from there. In addition to this other troops are coming from Kentucky and Mo. With the whole of them there is but little doubt but that I can hold out against anything likely to be brought against me.
I want to see you very much dear Julia and also our dear little children.
Good bye

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 332

Adm. Porter: “They got nothing but hard knocks”

I received the following communication from Gen. Dennis at Milliken’s Bend,

The enemy 2.500 Strong under Genl McCullough attacked our forces at Millikens Bend Yesterday morning about daylight, and were repulsed with heavy loss. I learned the evening before that the enemy were advancing upon that point, and immediately sent the 23d Iowa Infantry and a Gun Boat to their assistance. Yesterday morning I also sent the 120th and 131st 111 Infy to reenforce them, but they arrived too late to take part in the engagement. The loss of the 9th and 11th Louisiana Vols. A. D. was about 60 killed and 100 wounded, and that of the 23d Iowa, 26 killed and 44 wounded. The loss of the enemy, I think, exceeds ours. I will send a full report as soon as possible, in the mean time, the following I have gleaned from a deserter, and consider it reliable. That the force of the enemy consisted of 9 regiments of Infantry, of 600 men each, and one battery of Artillery, all in command of General’s McCollough, Randall, and Walker. Walker threatened Young’s Point, while McCollough engaged the forces, at Millekens Bend; The artillery was left back at Tensas Bayou. The enemy expected to form a junction with General Price at Richmond, the enemy have retreated to Richmond.


I also received the following from Adm. Porter,

General GRANT.


Flag ship Black Hawk,

June 7, 1863.

DEAR GENERAL: Last night, or early this morning, the rebels, supposed to amount to 3,000 or 4,000 strong, attacked Milliken’s Bend, and nearly gobbed up the whole party. Fortunately, I heard of it in time to get the Choctaw and Lexington up there just as their attack commenced. The rebels got into our camps and killed a good many negroes, and left about 80 of their number killed on the levee. Our troops mostly negroes retreated behind the banks near the water’s edge, and the gunboats opened so rapidly on the enemy that they scampered off, the shells chasing them as far as the woods. They got nothing but hard knocks.

The moment I heard of it, I went up in the Black Hawk and saw quite an ugly sight. The dead negroes lined the ditch inside of the parapet, or levee, and were mostly shot on the top of the head. In front of them, close to the levee, lay an equal number, of rebels, stinking in the sun. their knapsacks contained four days’ provisions. They were miserable looking wretches. I had no sooner got there than the dispatch boat brought me a letter from the general commanding here, informing me that the rebels had appeared near the canal in force. I hurried back, and found all the vessels having guns ready to receive them, and heard nothing of the rebels. It was a false alarm, but the steamers had all gone off for Young’s Point.

There are about 300 troops here in all, not counting the blacks. I think we should have 1,000 men near the canal and at Young’s Point, and I recommend moving everything form Milliken’s Bend to the latter place. We can defend it much better. Those fellows will be scouting about here fro some time, and it is no longer sage to run teams across to the vessels on the other side. I think them, but I hear they are at Memphis waiting for troops. The twenty-NINTH Iowa I think it was behaved well to-day. It stood its ground against great odds, and kept the enemy out of the camps until the men could form and get into some kind of order.

I think we want ore force here, and everything at Young’s Point moved over on the opposite side of the river, near the mouth of the Yazoo, where there is a good landing.

Very truly, yours,


Acting Rear Admiral.


I wrote Gen. Dennis,

To Brig. Gen. Elias S. Dennis
Near Vicksburg Miss

June 8th, 1863

Brig Gen’l. E. S Dennis Commdg Dist’ of N. Eastern La
I have ordered Genl Mowers Brigade over to reinforce you. He is sent merely for temporary service to repel any threatened attack. With the force you will have with this accession, I think you can drive the enemy beyond the Tensas river. If, however you think more force is required, let me know, and it will be promptly sent. If the enemy is in the neighborhood of Richmond, he should be driven from there, and our troops should push on to Monroe. Every vestige of an enemy’s camp ought to be shoved back of that point. I am not fully advised of the force you are likely to meet, but cannot think it large. No such blind move could be made by an intelligent foe, as to send more than a force for a raid into such a pocket. Let me hear what intelligence you have from the rebel forces concentrating on the peninsula
U. S. Grant Maj Gen’l
P. S. You understand that all the troops in the District of North Eastern La, both black and white, are subject to your orders. At Lake Providence you have two White Regiments that can join you in any movement towards Monroe.
U. S. G.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 326-8

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

National Archives, RG 94, War Records Office, Union Battle Reports

O.R., I, xxiv, part 2, p 453-4