“On examining the route of the present canal, I lost all faith in its ever leading to any practical results”

Feb 4 1863.  It does not look as if the canal being dug has much hope of success.  However, our scouting has identified several alternate routes through the bayous surrounding Vicksburg.  I wrote Col. Kelton,

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg,

February 4, 1863.

Colonel J. C. KELTON,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington City:

COLONEL: HEREWITH I inclose you reports from Colonel Deitzler and Lieutenant-Colonel Duff, from Lake Providence, FIFTY-odd miles above here.

On examining the route of the present canal, I lost all faith in its ever leading to any practical results. The canal is at right angles with the thread of the current at both ends, and both ends are in an eddy, the lower coming out under bluffs completely commanding it. Warrenton, a few miles below, is capable of as strong defenses as Vicksburg, and the enemy, seeing us at work here, have turned their attention to that point. Our labors, however, have had the effect of making the enemy divide his forces and spread their big guns over great deal of territory. They are now fortified from Haynes’ Bluff to Warrenton. Taking the views I did, I immediately on my arrival here commenced, or ordered, other routes prospected.

One of these is by the way of Yazoo Pass into Coldwater, the Tallahatchee, and Yazoo Rivers. This is conducted by Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, from whom no reports is yet received. This route, if practicable, would enable us to get high ground above Haynes’ Bluff, and would turn all the enemy’s river batteries.

Another is by Lake Providence and the network of bayous connecting it with Red River. The accompanying reports show the feasibility of this route.

A THIRD is by the way of Willow and Roundaway Bayous, leaving the Mississippi at Milliken’s Bend, and coming in at New Carthage. There is no question but that this route is much more practicable than the present undertaking, and would have been accomplished with much less labor if commenced before the water had got all over the country. The work on the present canal is being pushed. New inlet and outlet are being made, so that the water will be received where the current strikes the shore, and will be carried through in a current.

Respectfully, &c.,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 281

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, 14

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