“I would still repeat instructions, that possession be gotten of Grand Gulf at the very earliest possible moment”

Apr 18 1863. Gen. McClernand is asking for more transports to move his troops across the river.

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Smith’s Plantation, April 18, 1863.

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

GENERAL: I have the honor to call your attention to, and most earnestly urge upon your consideration the very great importance of placing at once below Vicksburg a sufficient number of transports to carry my whole command at once. This corps has now gained a position that will enable us to capture Grand Gulf and co-operate in the reduction of Port Hudson. With these points in our possession, the Mississippi open to New Orders, with the combined efforts of both armies and gunboat fleets, we shall be able to attack Vicksburg in front and rear, and soon it must fall into our hands; and, with its fate, a virtual end will be put to the war in the Southwest, and a hopeful prospect of putting a speedy end to the rebellion. But to use the advantages we have gained in taking our present position, no time must be allowed the enemy to prepare to meet us on the line of our present advance. A short delay here may endanger the certainty of our success, which must attend a rapid forward movement at this time.

The loss of a steamer, in running the blockade, will be nothing in comparison to what we may lose in the advantage we have now gained, the sickness of the men, and the loss of the campaign, which must be made in the next six weeks.

With a steam-tug or two, the quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance stores could be towed in flats from Richmond in a very few days, as it would shorten the hauling one-half. These boats would be invaluable at this time. The gunboats, not being under your control, cannot be relied on for the transportation of troops, while, at the same, time they can render move valuable service in transporting the army.

In every point of view, the, the importance of placing a number of transports below Vicksburg immediately cannot be overestimated, and I submit that a sufficient number should at once be sent down.

Your most obedient servant,

JOHN A. McClernand.

He has a point.  The longer it takes to move the troops, the more time the Rebels will have to attack us when we are at our most vulnerable.  I replied,

SMITH’S PLANTATION, La., April 18, 1863.

Major General John A. McClernand, Comdg. Thirteenth Army Corps;

I would still repeat instructions, that possession be gotten of Grand Gulf at the very earliest possible moment. Once there, no risk should be taken in following the enemy until our forces are concentrated. Troops first there should intrench themselves for safety, and the whole of your corps concentrated as rapidly as our means of transportation will permit. General McPherson will be closing upon you as rapidly as your troops can be gotten and rations supplied.

I see that great caution will have to be observed in getting barges past the crevasse near New Carthage, and I apprehend a loss of some artillery may be encountered.

I will send over at once the pontoon train, with men to lay it. It can at least be thrown across Bayou Vidal, opposite your headquarters, to enable troops and artillery to march a good portion of the way to Carthage. If it can possibly be laid so as to cross the levee crevasse near Carthage, it would be of much greater service. Should we succeed in getting steamers past Vicksburg, they will bring you a further supply of rations. In the mean time, all

the wagons, including all the regimental trains, should be kept constantly on the road between here and Milliken’s Bend. The number of wagons available is increasing daily. Troops guarding the different points between here and Richmond should gather all

beef-cattle and forage within reach of them, and destroy no more they can use. I will be over here in a few days again, and hope it will be my good fortune to find you in safe possession of Grand Gulf.

You do not want to start, however, without feeling yourself secure in the necessary transportation.

U. S. GRANT.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 88-89

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, 205

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