Gen. McClernand: ” I hasten to inquire whether its purpose is to relieve me from the command of … the forces composing the Mississippi River expedition”

I have received the following letter from Gen. McClernand, reacting to my assumption of command.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE Mississippi, DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Before Vicksburg, January 30, 1863.

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

General Order, number 13, is this moment received. I hasten to inquire whether its purpose is to relieve me from the command of all or any portion of the forces composing the Mississippi River expedition, or, in other words, whether its purpose is to limit my command to the Thirteenth Army Corps. I am led to make this inquiry, because, while such seems to be the intention, it conflicts with the order of the Secretary of War, made under the personal direction of the President, bearing date October 21, 1862, of which the following is an extract:

Major-General McClernand is directed to proceed to the States of Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, to organize the troops remaining in those States, * * * and forward them * * * to Memphis, Cairo, or such other points as may hereafter be designated, * * * to the end that when a sufficient force not required by the operations of General Grant’s command [then in WEST Tennessee] shall be raised, an expedition may be organized under General McClernand’s command against Vicksburg and to clear the Mississippi to New Orleans.

Also witch the order of the General-in-Chief to you, dated December 18, 1862, of which the following is an extract:

It is the wish of the President that General McClernand’s corps shall constitute a part of the river expedition, and that he shall have the immediate command, under your direction.

Also with your communication of the same date, based on the preceding order, and giving me command of the expedition, and with your verbal assurance of yesterday that my relations to the forces here would continue undisturbed. *

I repeat that I respectfully ask for an explanation of this seeming conflict of authority and orders, that I may be enabled to guide my action intelligently.

By [Special] Orders, Number 22., you extend your command as far WEST from the Mississippi River as your orders may reach. By General Orders, Number 13., you charge the Thirteenth Army Corps with garrisoning Helena and other points south. Is it to be understood that my command WEST of the Mississippi is so coextensive with the purview of Special Orders, Number 22?

Again, you charge the Thirteenth Army Corps with garrisoning the WEST bank of the Mississippi. Am I to understand that I am to act on my own judgment in fixing the number, strength, and location of those garrisons, or simply by your directions? It is quite obvious that the whole or a large portion of the Thirteenth Army Corps must be absorbed by these garrisons if the purpose is to afford complete protection to all lawful vessels navigating the river; and having been by a series of orders assigned to the command of it, I may be entirely withdrawn from it.

For the reason last stated, and because the portion of the Thirteenth Army Corps taking part in this expedition is very much smaller than any other corps of your command, and because my forces are here and those of others have yet to come, why not detach from the latter to garrison the river shore and relieve all those here from liability to that charge?

Your obedient servant,

JOHN A. McClernand,

Major-General, Commanding.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 265

O.R., I, xvii, part 1, 12-13

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