“I shall start this evening on a short trip to New Orleans, remaining there but a day or two”

Aug 31 1863.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

Vicksburg, Miss., August 30, 1863.

General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

I shall start this evening on a short trip to New Orleans, remaining there but a day or two. General Banks is not yet off, and I am desirous of seeing him before he starts to learn his plans and see how I may help him. The general is very anxious for more cavalry, but I have none whatever here at present. I am looking for the return o that sent north-to save, if they could, the rolling-stock near Grenada-daily, and also for 2,000 more, which Hurlbut says he can spare me. If they arrive in time I will send a portion to Banks, though I cannot well spare them.

S. D. Lee, who was one of the generals paroled here, is in command of all the cavalry in my front. I am somewhat at a loss to know by what means he has been released from the obligations of his parole, but suppose it must be all right. I have taken measures to ascertain if he has been exchanged.

I have heard nothing from the expedition which left Goodrich’s Landing yet; though they have been gone seven days, I feel no apprehension for their safety. The river is generally quiet, but one case of firing into steamers having been reported for several weeks; that occurred yesterday at Morganza, below here. No artillery was used. The party who fired was said to be headed by a prisoner who escaped from New Orleans. They are a party of robbers who fire on all paries alike, knowing no friends.

Signs of negro insurrection are beginning to exhibit themselves. Last week some armed negroes crossed the Yazoo in the neighborhood of Hayne’s Bluff, and went up into the Deer Creek country, where they murdered several white men. I cannot learn the full particulars of this occurrence. The negroes who committed this act, however, are not soldiers, but were probably some men from a negro camp occupying plantations near Haynes’ Bluff. It seems that some of the citizens in that country have attempted to intimidate the negroes by whipping, and (in a few instances) by shooting them. This probably was but a case of retribution.

The enemy seems to have withdrawn most if not all his force from my front, except his cavalry, and gone to the vicinity of Mobile. Movements in Banks’ department evidently indicate to them an early attack on that city.

The health of this command is as good as could be in camp in any part of the country. Sherman’s corps is in condition to move on the shortest notice. McPherson would be just as ready, but is scattered on different expeditions and in garrisoning this city and Natchez.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 219-21

O.R., I, xxx, part 3, p 224-5

“I shall leave here to-morrow for New Orleans”

Aug 30 1863.  I received the following letter from Gen. Sherman,


General GRANT, Vicksburg:

We have taken 2 men in arms who profess to belong to Pinson’s cavalry, detached, they say, along with 11 others who escaped into the canebrake. These men have no uniform, no marks of a soldier’s dress; are not even dressed alike, and are clothed as citizens. We should not treat such men as soldiers. We should insist on their soldiers wearing a uniform-something to distinguish them from the common citizen. Shall I proceed against them as spies? At the time of capture they were fully equipped, were outside of our lines dogging one of our mounted parties coming back from a regular scout. I wish I had made this point by flag of truce yesterday, but it will do for the next.



I replied,

VICKSBURG, MISS., August 30, 1863.

General SHERMAN:

Send in the prisoners you have taken without uniform, to be confined in jail until their case can be made the subject of a communication. I shall leave here to-morrow for New Orleans. In my absence you can send the communication. I will probably be gone ten days.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 213-4

O.R., I, xxx, part 3, p 227

Lincoln: “The law of nations … permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies”

Aug 29 1863.  Apparently the rumor of the execution of colored soldiers during the battle at Milliken’s Bend has been printed in a newspaper and has made its way to Gen. Halleck.  I received the following letter from him,

Major-General GRANT, Vicksburg, MISS.:

GENERAL: I inclose herewith a slip taken from the Missouri Democrat.

The Secretary of War directs that you report any answer you may have received from General Taylor to your communication to him on the treatment of colored troops and of white officers of such troops. You will also report any reliable evidence you may have of the alleged ill-treatment of any of our troops by the enemy.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



[From the Missouri Democrat.]


The following is given us upon the authority of Lieutenant Cole, of the Mississippi Marine Brigade:

The day after the battle of Milliken’s Bend, in June last, the Marine Brigade landed some 10 miles below the Bend, and attacked and routed the guerrillas which had been repulsed by our troops and the gunboats the day previous. Major Hubbard’s cavalry battalion, of the Marine Brigade, followed the retreating rebels to Tensas Bayou, and were horrified in the finding of skeletons of white officers commanding negro regiments, who had been captured by the rebels at Milliken’s Bend.

In many cases these officers had been nailed to the trees and crucified; in this situation a fire was built around the tree, and they suffered a slow death from broiling. The charred and partially burned limbs were still fastened to the stakes. Other instances were noticed of charred skeletons of officers, which had been nailed to slabs, and the slabs placed against a house which was set on fire by the inhuman demons, the poor sufferers having been roasted alive until nothing was left but charred bones. Negro prisoners recaptured from the guerrillas confirmed these facts, which were amply corroborated by the bodies found, as above described. The negroes taken were to be resold into slavery, while the white officers were consumed by fire.

Lieutenant Cole holds himself responsible for the truth of the statement.


I have already questioned Gen. Taylor about the rumored atrocities and I am satisfied that they did not occur.  I wrote back,

HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENN., Vicksburg, August 29, 1863.

General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

Your letter of the 12th instant, owing to my absence from headquarters for a few days, is just received. The letter referred to contains an extract from the Missouri Democrat (entirely sensational, I think), detailing horrors said to have been committed upon officers and soldiers said to have been captured at Milliken’s Bend, in July last. Inclose correspondence which ensued.

I have no evidence of ill-treatment to any prisoners captured from us further than the determination to turn over to Governors of States all colored soldiers captured.

Owing to movements now going on WEST of the Mississippi, I cannot communicate well with either General E. K. Smith or General Taylor. As soon as I can, however, I will do so, and inclose a copy of the President’s retaliatory order. I am also in hopes of having on hand by that time a number of prisoners of war from Smith’s command, which would add great force to anything I might say.

The expedition from Goodrich’s Landing is now five days out. Between Steele’s movement and this one, it will confuse the enemy so as to make Banks’ entry into Texas easy.



The President’s retaliatory order was issued on July 30 and reads,

Executive Mansion, Washington D.C July 30. 1863

It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and the usages and customs of war as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person, on account of his color, and for no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age.

The government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our possession.

It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 210-1

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 589-90

Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, VI, p 357

“I am profoundly gratified at this public recognition, in the city of Memphis, of the power and authority of the Government of the United States”

Memphis, Tenn, Aug, 26, 1863,

I have stopped at Memphis on my way back to Vicksburg.  Some citizens of the town loyal to the United States are having a public reception for me there.  I went there with Gen. Hurlbut and declined to speak.  However, I had the following statement read.

Gentlemen: I have received a copy of resolutions passed by the “loyal citizens of Memphis at a meeting held at the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce, August 25, 1863,” tendering me a public reception. In accepting this testimonial, which I do at a great sacrifice of my personal feelings, I simply desire to pay a tribute to the first public exhibition in Memphis to the Government which I represent in the Department of the Tennessee. I should dislike to refuse, for considerations of personal convenience, to acknowledge, anywhere or in any form, the existence of sentiments which I have so long and so ardently desired to see manifested in this Department, The stability of this Government and the unity of this nation depend solely upon the cordial support and the earnest loyalty of the people. While, therefore, I thank you sincerely for the kind expressions you have used toward myself, I am profoundly gratified at this public recognition, in the city of Memphis, of the power and authority of the Government of the United States.
I thank you, too, in the name of the noble army which I have the honor to command. It is composed of men whose loyalty is proved by their deeds of heroism and their willing sacrifices of life and health. They will rejoice with me that the miserable adherents of the rebellion, whom their bayonets have driven from this fair land, are being replaced by men who acknowledge human liberty as the only true foundation of human government. May your efforts to restore your city to the cause of the Union be as successful as have been theirs to reclaim it from the despotic rule of the leaders of the rebellion.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen. Your very obedient servant,

U. S. Grant,

Major General


There were two toasts offered to me.  After the second, I said briefly,

I thank you, gentlemen, for your kindness. All that will add to your prosperity, that it is in my power to do, I will grant you.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 202-3

Missouri Democrat, Sept. 2, 1863

“If trade is opened under any general rule, all sorts of dishonest men will engage in it”

Aug 26 1863.  Up until now I have banned trade with civilians in order to prevent the rebel government from benefiting.  Now that Mississippi has been pacified, I am willing to open trade, but only if strictly supervised.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

Memphis, Tenn., August 26, 1863.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

Since the forces under my command moved south of Helena, Ark., I have prohibited trade with citizens entirely, because it would be better for our cause of this prohibition was general with all the States in rebellion. Trade, however, has been opened, under restrictions, I believe, in all the departments except this, and in this as far down as Helena. Under these circumstances I do not know but it would be advisable to open up means for those persons living within the States of Mississippi and Louisiana to obtain the necessaries of life and indispensable articles of clothing, &c. If trade is opened under any general rule, all sorts of dishonest men will engage in it, taking any oath or obligation necessary to secure the privilege. Smuggling will at once commence, as it did at Memphis, Helena, and every other place where trade has been allowed within the disloyal States, and the armed enemy will be enabled to procure from Norther markets every article they require.

In view of all these facts, I would recommend the appointment of a post sutler for each post occupied in those parts of the country where trade has not been opened, and authorize them to keep such articles as it is desirable should be supplied to citizens within our lines. Such persons would be under military control, and, being limited in number, such precautions might be taken as would prevent improper trade.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 201-2

O.R., III, iii, p 721

Halleck: “The Secretary of War … authorizes you to use any of General Ellet’s brigade for temporary shore duty”

Aug 24 1863.  I have received a reply from Gen. Halleck to my letter to Gen. Lorenzo Thomas concerning Ellet’s Marine Brigade.

WASHINGTON, August 24, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Vicksburg:

GENERAL: Adjutant-General Thomas has telegraphed to the War Department asking that Brigadier-General Ellet’s Marine Brigade be placed on shore duty, and his ram-boats be turned over to you as transports.

The Secretary of War does not approve the conversion of this marine or river brigade into a land brigade, but authorizes you to use any of General Ellet’s brigade for temporary shore duty, and any of his boats for temporary transports whenever the exigencies of the service require this use.

This brigade was organized and the men enlisted especially for service as river-men, in conjunction with either the military or naval forces, as circumstances might require. They have already proved themselves valuable auxiliaries, and can probably be used to great advantage against guerrilla parties on the Mississippi and with expeditions up the Arkansas and Red Rivers.

Moreover, as the men have been enlisted for a special service, if that service were entirely changed it might be claimed that they were released from their contract.

Alternate employment on land and water, as circumstances may require, is deemed within the object of the organization. You are therefore authorized to so employ the boats and the men as you may require their services.

It is said by Adjutant-General Thomas that Admiral Porter wishes you to take charge of these boats and the brigade.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 181-2

O.R., I, xxx, part 3, p 144

“All quiet at Vicksburg”

My wife and family are leaving Vicksburg and traveling to St. Louis.  I have accompanied them as far as Cairo and I will head back via Memphis.  In Cairo I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CAIRO, ILL., August 23, 1863.

Major-General HALLECK,


All quiet at Vicksburg. Crocker will lead an expedition against Trinity and Harrisonburg from Natchez, and Stevenson one from Goodrich’s Landing, against Monroe, starting about Wednesday or Thursday next. This, with Steele’s move, I think will clear Louisiana side of the river to mouth of Red River. It is so secure on the river now that I think the Mississippi might be declared opened for through trade. The expedition through Central Mississippi was compelled to burn the cars it had gone to save. The enemy ran them south of Grenada and destroyed the bridges. There were 57 locomotives and about 400 cars. I would like 3,000 sets of horse equipments ordered to Vicksburg to enable me to mount infantry in case of emergency.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 198

O.R., I, xxx, part 3, p 129

“That is, by arming the negro we have added a powerful ally”

Aug 23 1863.  I wrote to President Lincoln,

To Abraham Lincoln
Cairo Illinois August 23d 1863,

His Excellency A. Lincoln President of the United States,

Your letter of the 9th inst. reached me at Vicksburg just as I was about starting for this place. Your letter of the 13th of July was also duly received.
After the fall of Vicksburg I did incline very much to an immediate move on Mobile. I believed then the place could be taken with but little effort, and with the rivers debouching there, in our possession, we would have such a base to operate from on the very center of the Confederacy as would make them abandon entirely the states bound West by the Miss. I see however the importance of a movement into Texas just at this time.
I have reinforced Gen. Banks with the 13th Army Corps comprising ten Brigades of Infantry with a full proportion of Artillery.
I have given the subject of arming the negro my hearty support. This, with the emancipation of the negro, is the heaviest blow yet given the Confederacy. The South rave a great deal about it and profess to be very angry. But they were united in their action before and with the negro under subjection could spare their entire white population for the field. Now they complain that nothing can be got out of their negroes.
There has been great difficulty in getting able bodied negroes to fill up the colored regiments in consequence of the rebel cavalry running off all that class to Georgia and Texas. This is especially the case for a distance of fifteen or twenty miles on each side of the river. I am now however sending two expeditions into Louisiana, one from Natchez to Harrisonburg and one from Goodriche’s Landing to Monroe, that I expect will bring back a large number. I have ordered recruiting officers to accompany these expeditions. I am also moving a Brigade of Cavalry from Tennessee to Vicksburg which will enable me to move troops to a greater distance into the interior and will facilitate materially the recruiting service.
Gen. Thomas is now with me and you may rely on it I will give him all the aid in my power. I would do this whether the arming the negro seemed to me a wise policy or not, because it is an order that I am bound to obey and do not feel that in my position I have a right to question any policy of the Government. In this particular instance there is no objection however to my expressing an honest conviction. That is, by arming the negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers and taking them from the enemy weaken him in the same proportion they strengthen us. I am therefore most decidedly in favor of pushing this policy to the enlistment of a force sufficient to hold all the South falling into our hands and to aid in capturing more.
Thanking you very kindly for the great favors you have ever shown me I remain, very truly and respectfully
your obt. svt.
U. S. Grant
Maj. Gn.


Ulysses S Grant, Triumph over Adversity, Brooks Simpson, p 220-1

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 195-7

Library of Congress, Robert Todd Lincoln

Halleck: “The Government is exceedingly anxious that our troops should occupy some points in Texas,with the least possible delay”

I received the following reply to my letter from Gen. Halleck,

WASHINGTON, D. C., August 22, 1863.

Major-General GRANT,

Vicksburg, Miss.:

GENERAL: Your letter of the 11th instant is just received.  The acceptances of yourself, Sherman,and McPherson have now all been received.

I have heard of no complaints whatever about the movements of your army since the fall of Vicksburg;on the contrary,everybody that it would require some rest before undertaking new operations. Your plain of moving against Kirby Smith from Natchez, by Harrisburg and Monroe,will agree very well with the line of operations suggested by General Banks,viz,to ascend the Red River to Shreveport and move on Marshall or to move from Natchitoches on Nacogdoches, Tex. This will make your two lines near enough together to assist each other. In case Banks adopts this plan, Kirby Smith and Magruder must abandon either Texas or Arkansas,or they will be obliged to wage a mere guerrilla war. General Banks has been left a liberty to select his own objective point in Texas,and may determine to move by sea. If so,your movement will not have his support and should be conducted with caution. You will confer on this matter freely with General Banks. The Government is exceedingly anxious that our troops should occupy some points in Texas,with the least possible delay.

In our contemplated operations in Arkansas and Louisiana,you will probably require additional cavalry. You are authorized to mount any of your infantry regiments,making requisitions on the proper department for horses and equipments. Your force should move as much as possible by water transports,in order to save land transportation trough a country where the roads are few and bad.

Very respectfully,your obedient servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 174-5

O.R., I, xxx, part 3, p 108-9

Dana: “I hope you will do the utmost to second the efforts of Gen. Thomas to raise negro troops”

I received the following letter from Asst. Secretary of War, Charles Dana, in response to my letter of Aug. 5,


Yours of the 5th inst. has been read with great satisfaction not only by myself, but by the Secretary of War and the President. I need not assure you that you will continue to receive the entire confidence of the administration & that any suggestion of yours will be received with the utmost consideration.

I have not seen your list of recommendations for promotion & cannot say how completely it has been complied with. As there are no vacancies in the list of major generals, it has not been practicable as yet to appoint any new officers of that grade, either from the candidates proposed by you, or by Gen. Meade, with the single exception of Gen. G. K. Warren, who was promoted not only on account of his own extraordinary merits, but because he was needed to take command of an army corps in the army of the Potomac. It is not impossible that a number of major generals who have been tried (I don’t mean by court martial) and have proved wanting may be dismissed, there are about a dozen such who will not again be called into active service, and in that case I have no doubt the men you have recommended will receive their commissions.

Of new brigadier generals I find in the register of the adjutant general the names of Prime, Woods, G. Smith, Maltby, Sanborn & Rawlins, all of whom I know belong to your command. (Prime has declined, for what reason I do not know: his health I understand to be much improving.) I judge that these are all that you have recommended for appointment to that grade, as I am sure your wish would be followed, wherever it is practicable to do so.

There is no news here of any importance aside from that published in the papers. The grand combined attack on Charleston will be made between Thursday of this week & Thursday following. Gen. Gillmore and Gen. Foster are both confident of success.

There is no probability of any change in the command of the army of the Potomac, nor of any immediately, in that of the army of the Cumberland. There is however, much dissatisfaction with the present state of things, but it takes a long time to make any movement at Hd Qrs.

I am about leaving to go down to Winchester, and shall probably remain with that army for several weeks. The question of transferring the Marine Brigade to your command has lately been acted upon here, and was negatived by the general in chief. I have had no opportunity of speaking with him on the subject and cannot say what were his reasons.I find that the Secy of War is pretty strongly convinced that the M. B. is a good institution, and though he is in favor of putting it under your- authority, he will not think that it ought to be abolished altogether. I have however told him that in my judgment that ought to be done.

I hope you will do the utmost to second the efforts of Gen. Thomas to raise negro troops. It is of great importance that the army should be as much strengthened from this source as possible, with a view to the contingency of a partial failure to raise men enough by the conscription. So far, the number of conscripts who pay commutation, & of those who are exempted by physical disability is much larger than was expected, & the number of valid soldiers smaller. The obstacles thrown in the way by the Copperheads are also numerous, cunning, & effective to a considerable degree. Besides, there is a large party whose effort is to bring the seceded states back with the same leaders & the same slavery with which they went out, and as an offset to their plot it is desirable to enlist a powerful negro force, from among the former slaves especially of the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.

If I find anything at Winchester or Nashville which I think likely to interest you, I will communicate it.

P. S. I can tell you in confidence that the report of the McDowell Commission bears very hard on Curtiss.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 148-9

Maj. Gen. Ulysses S Grant 3rd, Clinton NY