Col. Woods: “the Ram Lancaster was totally destroyed this morning in passing the Vicksburg batteries”

Mar 26 1863.  I have been forwarded a letter from Col. Woods informing me that the attempt to run transports past Vicksburg was unsuccessful.

I have the honor to inform you, that the Ram Lancaster was totally destroyed this morning in passing the Vicksburg batteries & that the Monarch received an eighty four pound shot in her boiler & had one of her steam pipes cut. the extent of the damage cannot yet be ascertained on account of the heat. I think it will take three or four days at least if not ten days to repair her. Admiral Farragut seems to think that the troops can be landed from the Gun Boats & the place destroyed. I do not feel so sanguine on the subject, as landing troops in small boats under the most favorable circumstances, is necessarily slow work, & the enemy would have time to reinforce the place to any extent I send Maj Warner with this dispatch in order to receive orders, if it is determined to push this matter it will be necessary to have Rations as our Rations run out to day after dinner. Please indicate to Maj Warner what is to be done & if additi[on]al rations are required he will attend to having them got down to the canal Owing to the disaster to the Rams I was obliged to keep my men under the Levy near the crevasse until near ten Oclock, & in removing them to the shelter of the wood above this place it was impossible to keep them entirely concealed from the enemy, & I think it more than likely that they are aware of our intended movement.

 

This, plus the reports of troops moving from Vicksburg to Warrenton, unfortunately means that an amphibious assault on that place is no longer feasible.  I wrote Adm. Farragut,

BEFORE Vicksburg, March 26, 1863.

Admiral DAVID G. FARRAGUT, Comdg. Gulf Squadron:

Your note of yesterday is just received. In regard to attacking Warrenton, I do not know now what to say. When I first learned that twelve to FIFTEEN yawls would be required, I called on General Ellet for them. The general being over to see you, no reply was received (except from his adjutant-general, that he thought they had that number) until the general’s return in the evening, when he informed me that it was arranged for the rams and Hartford to transport the troops; no small boats would be required. After learning again that small boats would be required, I again called on General Ellet for them, and only learned after dark that, after the losses of the vessels with the rams, he could not furnish them. I then sent for the boats belonging to the transport fleet, and found that not more than two could be gotten. By this time so much of the night was consumed that I could not call upon the navy with any prospect of getting them through in time to be used this morning. About 9 o’clock last night, I learned that a force of apparently about 1,500 men left Vicksburg in the direction of Warrenton. I communicated this fact to Colonel Woods, and left it for you and himself, who would probably have better means of knowing the destination of these troops, to judge what course was best to pursue. With a little lower stage of water, I would endeavor to occupy New Carthage. This occupied, and one gunboat from this fleet below the city, the enemy could be kept out of Warrenton, and also from taking supplies from a rich country that can be reached through bayous with flat-boats on this side of the river. I see by Southern papers, received yesterday, that Vicksburg must depend upon Louisiana or WEST of the Mississippi for supplies. Holding Red River from them is a great step in the direction of preventing this, but it will not entirely accomplish the object. New Carthage should be held, and it seems to me that, in addition, we should have vessels sufficient below to patrol the whole river from Warrenton to the Red River. I will have a consultation with Admiral Porter on the subject. I am happy to say the admiral and myself have never yet disagreed upon any policy.

I am looking for a mail in to-day, and should one arrive with later dates of papers than you have already been furnished with, I will send them over.

U. S. GRANT.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 7, p 471-3

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 147-8

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