“I regret, general, my inability to send you troops”

July 16 1863.  Last night I received a telegram from Gen. Sherman reporting that Johnston had crossed a cavalry force across the Pearl River to threaten his supply line.

Lieutenant Colonel John A. RAWLINS.

BEFORE JACKSON, July 15, 1863.

A deserter just in reports a heavy cavalry force of 4,000 having crossed Pearl River from the east to the west, 15 miles north of us, no doubt to operate on our train. If Yazoo force moves in direction of Big Black River Bridge, it will draw off this force from our roads.




Gen. Banks had written to me requesting reinforcements.  With this cavalry force threatening, we cannot spare any.  I wrote to Banks,

HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENN., Vicksburg, MISS., July 16, 1863.

Major General N. P. BANKS, Comdg. Department of the Gulf:

Your letter of the 12th, received at the hands of Major [G. N.] Lieber, of your staff, is just at hand. I had written a letter for you which will explain the present position of all my forces and the impossibility of sending you any troops just now.

Ten steamers have been sent to Port Hudson, and others are about ready, discharged, to send; also all the coal, forage and barges that can possibly be spared for the present. Coal and forage are looked for daily, however, and, as soon as it arrives, shall be forwarded.

I regret, general, my inability to send you troops, but my letter by Colonel Lagow will explain to you that if I was to send the last man here, it would scarcely make the number you wish.

There is no material change of affairs at Jackson, except the enemy have crossed a large force of cavalry to this side of the river, which was said to be this morning near a train of ordnance stores and provisions going toward Jackson. It would hurt Sherman materially to lose this train. I have not to exceed 1,500 effective cavalry with the whole of the army with me and all that is now at Jackson.

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


The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Vol 9, p 57, 61-2

O.R., I, xxiv, part 2, p 527

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 519

“General Sherman has Jackson invested from Pearl River on the north to the river on the south”

July 15 1863.  General Herron has won a victory in Yazoo City with the help of Adm. Porter’s gunboats.  I wrote Gen. Halleck to inform him of the latest developments.

Vicksburg, MISS., July 15, 1863-10 a. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief:

General Sherman has Jackson invested from Pearl River on the north to the river on the south. This has cut off many hundred cars from the Confederacy. Sherman says he has force enough, and feels no apprehension about the result.

Finding Yazoo City was being fortified, I send General Herron there with his DIVISION. He captured several hundred prisoners, one gunboat, five pieces of heavy artillery, and all the public stores fell into our hands. The enemy burned three steamboats on the approach of the gunboats.

The De Kalb was blown up, and sank in 15 feet of water, by the explosion of a torpedo.  Finding that the enemy was crossing cattle for the rebel army at Natchez, and were said to have several thousand there now, I have sent steamboats and troops to collect them, and to destroy their boats and all means for making a move.

General Banks has made requisition on me for steamboats, coal, and forage, which I have sent.

Shall I send the NINTH Army Corps back to Burnside so soon as Joe Johnston is driven from Jackson?


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 50-1

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 512-3

Sherman: ” I avail myself of the opportunity to describe more fully … the operations up to this date”

July 14 1863.  I have received a full report of the investment of Jackson from Gen. Sherman.  He writes,

Army before Jackson, July 14, 1863.

DEAR GENERAL: Yours of yesterday’s date is received, and I avail myself of the opportunity to describe more fully than have hitherto done the operations up to this date, and the present attitude of affairs, that you may give me orders or advice. The first hint of the capitulation of Vicksburg reached me from you, by telegraph, on the 3rd day of July, when I was in person at Trible’s place, near Break Creek, with troops disposed from Haynes’ Bluff to the Big Black, at the railroad crossing. I immediately concentrated on the three best points for passing Big Black River, viz, at the railroad crossing, at Messinger’s Ford, and at Birdsong Ferry. At the two latter points I had constructed bridges, and by the 6th of July the Thirteenth Army Corps (General Ord) had reached the railroad crossing, the Fifteenth Army Corps (General Steele) Messinger’s and the NINTH Army Corps (General Parke) Birdsong. All the heads of columns crossed Black River the evening of the 6th, and on the 7th marched to Bolton Depot, each keeping different roads. The weather was so intensely hot that it would have been fatal to push the troops.

During the evening and right of the 7th, all the columns marched opposite Clinton, where we rested and formed the columns for battle, all the evidence being that General Johnston, in strong force, was in our front, determined to resist our entering Jackson.

Early the morning of the 9th, all moved forward in close supporting distance, Ord on the right, Steele in the center, and Parke on the left. The enemy had cavalry videttes and small guards to our front, but they retired rapidly before us, and by 9. 30 a. m. of the 9th we drew the artillery fire of the batteries at Jackson.

I soon satisfied myself that General Johnston had taken refuge in Jackson; that he had resolved to fight behind intrenchments, and that his intrenched position was the same substantially that we found last May, only that it had been much strengthened and extended, so that its flanks reached Pearl River.

The works were too good to be assaulted, and orders were given to deploy and form lines of circumvallation about 1,500 yards from the enemy’s parapet, with skirmishers close up, and their supports within 500 yards; also that each corps should construct covered batteries for their guns and trenches for their men.

All the troops took up their positions with comparative ease and little loss, save the DIVISION commanded by General Lauman, of Ord’s corps, which, by the obscure character of the ground, its trees and bushes, advanced too near the enemy’s parapet, without proper skirmishers deployed, and received the cross fire of his artillery and infantry, causing considerable loss of life. The exact extent of this loss has not been reported, but will not fall much short of 400. General Ord has relieved General Lauman of the command of the DIVISION, and I deem it so important to support corps commanders in their authority that I must sustain General Ord for the time being.

Having invested the place, I ordered Colonel Bussey, chief of cavalry with his cavalry force, numbering about 1,000 effectives, to proceed to Canton and destroy the cars, locomotives, railroads, and machine-shops there, and proceed on to the Big Black River Bridge and destroy that.

He has returned, having found Canton occupied by a force too large for him to attack, and he did not go to the bridge at all, as he deemed it unsafe to pass so considerable a force by the flank, but he destroyed 2 locomotives and 14 box cars at Calhoun Station.

At the same time the cavalry force attached to General Ord’s corps were dispatched south. This party has also returned, having burned five bridges on the road out for 15 miles. We have also in our possession here about 20 platform cars, which will be completely burned, and two brigades are kept on daily duty burning the railroad ties and iron north and south, with orders to completely destroy it for 10 miles each way, so that a very fair beginning has been made toward the destruction of this railway; but I am determined that it shall be so effectually destroyed that it cannot be repaired during the war.

A force of 500 cavalry, with four guns and five wagons, will start tomorrow south for Brookhaven, with orders to destroy the road at many places, especially at Gallatin and Brookhaven, and Colonel Bussey’s cavalry, with Woods’ brigade of infantry, and Landgraeber’s battery of light artillery, will also be dispatched again to Canton to destroy that place, with all its machinery and railroads, and then to proceed to the bridge, 12 miles beyond, and burn it. Thus I hope to make a break of 100 miles in this Great Central Railroad; to be so effectually destroyed that the enemy will not even attempt its reconstruction. General McArthur’s DIVISION is on the road, two brigades at Clinton and one at Champion’s Hill, so disposed as to insure the safety of our trains against the enemy’s cavalry, of which I can learn but little. There is a DIVISION of cavalry commanded by General Jackson; two brigades, commanded by Whitfield and Cosby, containing, I think, about 3,000 men. Cosby is, I suppose, at Canton and the bridge, and Whitfield is east of Pearl River, guardiback to Meridian, with some scattered squads hanging about the country. Our foraging parties now go out about 15 miles, but are invariably guarded by a regiment of infantry. We are absolutely stripping the country of corn, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, everything, and the new-growing corn is being thrown open as pasture fields or hauled for the use of our animals. The wholesale destruction to which this country is now being subjected is terrible to contemplate, but it is the scourge of war, to which ambitions men have appealed, rather than the judgment of the learned and pure tribunals which our forefathers had provided for supposed wrongs and injuries. Therefore, so much of my instructions as contemplated destroying and weakening the resources of our enemy are being executed with rigor, and we have also done much toward the destruction of Johnston’s army. If he waits a day or two, I will so threaten his rear that he will be compelled to come out and fight or run, and in either event I feel confident of success. I know that much plunder has been sent by him to the east of Pearl River, but his army is still in Jackson, and several very heavy guns are mounted at the salients and reply to our fire. Their parapets are also well manned, and our sharpshooters are closing nearer and nearer, and becoming familiar with their respective fronts. We are now ready for a sally, and if he attempts to escape we ought to defect the movement very early, and will, of course, take advantage of it. Captain Audenried, of your staff, is here, and will examine our lines tomorrow and carry this report to you, with a map of our position, compiled from partial surveys and all other available sources. I will also send by him all the lists of casualties thus far sustained that I can obtain of corps and DIVISION commanders. The field labors of all are so arduous and constant that I know General Grant will overlook the want of more accurate detailed reports till the issue of this campaign is reached.

I am, with great respect,


Major-General, Commanding.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 44-46

O.R., I, xxiv, part 2, p 525-7

Lincoln: “I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong”

I received the following letter from President Lincoln,

Major General Grant
My dear General

I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did — march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.

Yours very truly
A. Lincoln


Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 6

“you may return to Vicksburg as soon as this object is accomplished”

I wrote Gen. Sherman,

HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENN., Vicksburg, MISS., July 13, 1863.


Commanding Army investing Jackson, MISS.:

GENERAL: The object of the expedition you are commanding being to break up Johnston’s army and divert it from our rear, and, if possible, to destroy the rolling stock and everything valuable for carrying on war, or placing it beyond the reach of the rebel army, you may return to Vicksburg as soon as this object is accomplished. Being on the spot, you will know better than I can how far your cavalry should be sent, either east or north. I do not think it necessary to send the cavalry farther than Black River Bridge. In case you send them there, after starting back here yourself, it might be better to let them return to Vicksburg by the roads WEST of the Black.

Do you think Johnston is receiving re-enforcements, or is he simply holding Jackson until the road east of him is completed, so that he can get off all the rolling stock on this side? Can you make a safe retreat to the Big Black, if it is found Johnston is receiving re-enforcements from the east?

I would not advise your infantry going any farther east than they are, except you should find it advantageous to hasten the retreat of the enemy. Should you find it impossible to drive Johnston from his position, and your remaining endangers either it or this place, you can then return.

I have sent Mower’s brigade and one brigade from Kimball’s DIVISION to relieve McArthur, and ordered the latter forward. The remainder of Kimball’s DIVISION is still disposable, but there is no other force here to spare well. I send this by Captain Audenried, of my staff, who will remain with you a day or two.

An intercepted letter from Jeff. Davis to Lee was sent me from Washington. From that it would seem that Lee has been asking for Beauregard to be sent to Culpeper Court-House with an army of 30,000. Davis speaks of the impossibility of doing so, and says Johnston is still calling for more re-enforcements, though his first requisition had been more than filled. He does not say whether he will still send more troops west, but from alarm expressed in the letter for the safety of Richmond, I judge Johnston can expect nothing more.

Captain Audenried will give you any news there is here.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 43-4

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 507-8

“Hoping to hear of your giving Johnston a good thrashing and driving him beyond Pearl River”

Having not heard any updates from Gen. Sherman, I wrote him,

Vicksburg, MISS., July 11, 1863.

Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Comdg. Expedition:

DEAR GENERAL: Dispatches just received from General Banks announces the good news of the surrender of Port Hudson, with 5,000 prisoners and all the armament of the place. News came from the East of the defeat of Lee and his precipitate retreat, with Meade in full pursuit. I have nothing definite from you since the morning of the 9th, but, not hearing, suppose all is right. Is there any probability that Johnston may be receiving re-enforcements and intends standing? I have just learned from Yazoo City that all the steamers from above have just come down there, and that Johnston sent orders to press all the negroes that can be got, to prosecute the work of fortifying with all vigor. More than 1,000 negroes are said to be at work now. I immediately ordered a DIVISION from here to break them up. The well prisoners have been paroled and about out of town. The number reached near 25,000. There are still those in hospital, near 6,000, yet to parole, besides many escaped without paroling.

Hoping to hear of your giving Johnston a good thrashing and driving him beyond Pearl River, with the loss of artillery, transportation, and munitions of war, I remain, yours truly,



He responded,

Near Jackson, MISS., July 11, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to report that my forces arrived before Jackson yesterday forenoon, general Parke moving on the Canton road, Steele on the direct Clinton road, and Ord keeping south of the Clinton road and reaching the Raymond road. The heads of columns are all close up. I have examined the position, and am satisfied Johnston’s whole army is in Jackson’s; that the entrenchments we found there in May have been extended so the flanks reach Pearl River. They have also been much strengthened, and heavy guns mounted at the salients

We have reserved our artillery fire, and have drawn theirs, which consist mostly of field guns, but some heavy rifled 6-in guns. I find no attempt has been made to repair the railroad WEST of Jackson, but that the north and south has been, and cars running. General Parke is now in possession of the north branch, has broken the telegraph wires, and will and once destroy this railroad for miles. I have dispatched Bussey’s cavalry farther to the north, on same errand, and other cavalry to the south. I learn that Pearl River Bridge is not repaired, though in process of building. Cars cannot pass it yet. Two common bridges are across Pearl River, near the railroad, which connect travel from the cars, which stop a mile east of Jackson, transferring freight and passengers to wagons and carriages. All the families are away from their houses all round about Jackson, and everything betokens a strong resistance. I would ; like another DIVISION on the road from Champion’s Hill to Clinton, to guard the communications and a depot of supplies kept at the railroad bridge on Big Black River. /By our former trip, and the demands of Johnston’s army, the country is stripped of food and forage. I have plenty of wagons.

I am,&c.,


Major-General Commanding.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 35-6

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 501

O.R., I, xxiv, part 2, p 521-2

Adm. Porter: “Port Hudson surrendered unconditionally on the 9th instant”

I have received information that Gen. Johnston may be planning to concentrate his force in Yazoo City.  I wrote Adm. Porter,

Vicksburg, MISS., July 11, 1863.

Admiral PORTER, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron:

I am just informed that Johnston has just sent a dispatch to Yazoo City to press all the negroes in the country, and set them to work fortifying. One thousand are already collected, guarded by two regiments of infantry; also that their fleet of steamers has come down to that place. Johnston claims to have repulsed Sherman and captured three brigades. As I have no news from Sherman confirmatory, I doubt the truth of this statement.

General Washburn informs me that the Yazoo River has risen 6 feet. Will it not be well to send up a fleet of gunboats and some troops, and nip in the bud any attempt to concentrate a force there? I will order troops at once to go aboard of transports.

Very respectfully,

HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENN., Vicksburg, MISS., July 11, 1863.


he responded,

FLAG-SHIP HAWK, Off Vicksburg, July 11, 1863.

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

GENERAL: Port Hudson surrendered unconditionally on the 9th instant. The steamer has just brought the dispatches.

As General Herron is all ready, allow me to suggest that he move up the Yazoo to-morrow morning, when I shall be all ready.

Yours, truly,



With the good news that Port Hudson has capitulated, sending Gen. Herron to Yazoo City makes sense.  I sent orders,

Vicksburg, MISS., July 11, 1863.

Major General F. J. HERRON:

GENERAL: The fall of Port Hudson obviates the necessity of your move in that direction. Your orders are, therefore, countermanded. You will proceed with your command on transports to Yazoo City, take possession of that place, and drive the enemy from that place and section.

Johnston is reported as having sent orders to have Yazoo City fortified. This we cannot permit. Admiral Porter is sending gunboats to co-operate. Communicate with him, and move when he is in readiness.

Take with you a battery, if you can get it aboard without too much delay.

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:


Assistant Adjutant-General.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 28-9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 499-500

“It will be agreeable to me to have General Smith remain for the purpose named”

July 10 1863.  There are numerous sick and wounded rebel soldiers that are going to be unable to leave Vicksburg with the main body of troops.  Gen. Pemberton seems to be concerned that if they are left in our care, we will encourage them to desert.  He writes,

Vicksburg, MISS., July 10, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Comdg. United States Forces:

GENERAL: I propose designating Major General M. L. Smith to remain after the departure of the army, with a view of carrying into effect, in conjunction with yourself, the terms of the capitulation of my army and this city. In order that he may act understandingly in reference to granting leaves of absence to sick and disabled officers and soldiers, and in forwarding the sick and wounded as they may become able to travel, it will probably be necessary for him to communicate with me under such conditions and at such times as may not interfere with your military movements. It is, of course, expected that General Smith is to be respected and treated according to his rank, with the privilege, when he leaves, of designating a successor, should one be necessary, and that he be furnished with transportation to the extent of one wagon and team and a proper escort through your lines when leaving, and, likewise, to have the facilities for getting supplies while here. Please inform me if this designation will be acceptable to you, and if what is asked will be accorded. I also ask that General Smith be allowed two or three couriers, with their horses, either from my present command or detailed from yours.

Very respectfully,


While I would be happy to encourage all rebels soldiers to desert, caring for all of the sick and wounded would be a tremendous burden for our medical staff.  Therefore I consented.  I replied,

Vicksburg, July 10, 1863.

Lieutenant General J. C. PEMBERTON, Comdg. Confederate Forces, Vicksburg:

GENERAL: Yours of this date, proposing to leave Major General M. L. Smith to arrange for the paroling of the sick and wounded, granting furloughs, &c., is received. It will be agreeable to me to have General Smith remain for the purpose named. Whilst here, it is not necessary for me to assure you he will receive every courtesy, and in leaving he will be insured a safe conduct beyond our lines. Four orderlies will be authorized to remain with General Smith. All communications passing between General Smith and outside our lines during his stay will be forwarded and received, open, through a flag of truce.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



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

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 493

“General Pemberton desires to commence moving with his command to-night”

Gen. Pemberton is anxious to leave Vicksburg before any more of his army deserts.  I wrote Gen. McPherson,

HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENN., Vicksburg, MISS., July 10, 1863.

Major General J. B. McPHERSON, Comdg. SEVENTEENTH Army Corps:

GENERAL: General Pemberton desires to commence moving with his command to-night. As the paroling is now about completed, he may be permitted to do so. In going over the lines, the rolls will be called, and those not answering to their names will be checked so that under the head of “remarks” it can be noted that such persons did not march out with their commanders. The rolls will show who are prisoners, and every ma named will be acknowledge as such, only it is wanted to avoid leaving the same man subject to exchange twice. Some named in the rolls may be in hospital, and, no doubt, many more will skulk and be found within our lines after their regiments have left, with or without passes. I told General Pemberton that everything would be done on my part to prevent any man being exchanged for twice. Accordingly, every man sent north whose name appears on the rolls sent to Washington will be enrolled again, and his name sent forward so that it may be stricken from the original rolls. You will want to appoint officers to be at the line of intrenchments to witness and compare rolls of absentees with the officers appointed by General Pemberton.

Yours, &c.,



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 21

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 495

“Make all preparation to move with your DIVISION to Port Hudson”

July 9 1863.  The fall of Vicksburg has opened navigation of the Mississippi for all intents and purposes.  However, Port Hudson is still in rebel hands despite being besieged by Gen. Banks.  I wrote Gen. Herron,

Vicksburg, MISS., July 9, 1863.

Major General F. J. HERRON:

GENERAL: Make all preparation to move with your DIVISION to Port Hudson as soon as the prisoners of war are turned out of our lines.

This will probably enable you to leave on the 11th. Take with you ten days’ rations. Leave your artillery and convalescents in charge of such camp and garrison equipage, as it will not be necessary to take it with you.

It is expected Port Hudson must fall within a few days, and as your DIVISION will return here as soon as possible, you will take with you as little baggage as possible, and no land transportation.

Very respectfully,


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 9

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 490-1