Mar 24 1863. I wrote Adm. Porter to ask his opinion of Adm. Farragut’s suggestion that we unite with Gen. Banks and capture Port Hudson.
BEFORE Vicksburg, March 23, 1863.
Admiral DAVID D. PORTER, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron:
Troops were promptly sent to Eagle Bend, on the Mississippi River, just where the bayou makes for the river to Steele’s Bayou, and have made a good road across. It is not practicable to keep a large force on the land there, but there will be constantly as many as the boat suitable for navigating Steele’s Bayou can ferry. I have no more boats of the class required here to send. The expedition by the way of Yazoo Pass seems to have come to a dead-lock at Greenwood. More forces are on the way to them, but I doubt of their being of any service. Colonel Wilson, in whose judgment I place great reliance, writes that land forces cannot act until the batteries are silenced. He thinks, too, that there has been unnecessary delay in reaching that point. By Admiral Farragut I received dispatches from General Banks. The general writes that he has advanced to near Port Hudson with all the forces he could spare for the expedition, about 20,000 of all arms. But as the enemy have 30,000 or over, and are fortified, he cannot expect to take the place. I have written back by Admiral Farragut, who will leave to-morrow, and report the position of our naval and military forces at this time and the practicability of sending an army corps by the way of Lake Providence to co-operate with him, but that we had not at present the transports or the gunboats suitable for this expedition. I have sent instructions to General Quinby, who now commands the Yazoo Pass expedition, to push down the river and destroy the enemy’s fleet if possible, but to return immediately if he does not deem this practicable. He will confer with the naval commanders in this matter. It is now perfectly practicable for such vessels as we have in the Yazoo to get into Bayou Macon.
The latter has always been reported as a navigable stream. With the return of either of the expeditions now in or near the Yazoo, I could send such a force as to insure the fall of Port Hudson. With the fall of that place, Banks could move up with, says, 15,000 men, besides all I would send him, and take every point to Warrenton without detention. I submit this to you, admiral, for your views, whether it would not be advisable to get out all the forces we have attempting to gain possession of the Yazoo River, and use them in the way here indicated.
I will heartily co-operate with you in the present enterprise so long as you deem it advisable to push it. Troops may have seemed slow in reaching you after your call, but all was due to the natural obstacles in the way of their reaching you earlier. I sent them promptly to Eagle Bend, having no more transports suitable to the navigation of the bayou, but the land the Mississippi to Steele’s Bayou was found covered with water, and had to be bridged. This is now done, and there is no difficulty in getting them up there.
Please let me hear from you by Major Bowers, of my staff, who bears this.
U. S. GRANT.
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 459-61
O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 132-3