Feb 15 1863. We are attempting to bypass the defenses of Vicksburg by sending an expedition from the Mississippi to the Yazoo River. I sent instructions to Gen. Prentiss in Arkansas.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Before Vicksburg, February 15, 1863.
Brigadier General B. M. PRENTISS,
Commanding District of Eastern Arkansas:
GENERAL: I send, with this, steamers to take on board General Ross’ DIVISION, to be used with the Yazoo expedition. Inclosed with this you will find copy of a letter from me to Admiral Porter, upon which the admiral based his instructions to the vessels used in this expedition, and which I want to have carried out.
Please hand the letter to General Ross for his guidance.
The troops will take with them FIFTEEN days’ rations, a portion of their tents and cooking utensils, but no wagons. Where the steamers are adapted, one piece might be put on the bow of each.
If this expedition should succeed in getting into the Coldwater, I want General Ross to take with him all the force he starts from Helena with. To do this you will want to establish a small garrison at the mouth of Yazoo Pass from the remainder of your force. Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, topographical engineer, has been with the expedition all the time, and knows the wants, and where troops should be placed. Please fill all requisitions from him for troops or tools, as if from myself.
The only change I would make in the instructions already given is, that as soon as they arrive at the mouth of the Yalabusha they turn up that stream and take Grenada and destroy the railroad bridges there, before proceeding farther down the river. Let there be no delay in this matter. Time now is growing important.
General Ross should take with him all his axes and spades, and if he has not got a good supply, then he should be supplied, particularly with axes, from the remainder of your command.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT.
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 329-30
O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 39