“I hope very soon to be able to report our possession of Grand Gulf”

Apr 19 1863. I sent the following update to Gen. Halleck,

Milliken’s Bend, La., April 19, 1863.

General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I returned last night from New Carthage, at and near which place Admiral Porter’s fleet is lying (six iron-clads and the ram General Price), together with two DIVISIONS of General McClernand’s corps. The whole of his corps is between Richmond and New Carthage.

I had all the empty barges here prepared for the transportation of troops and artillery, and sent ten of them by the Vicksburg batteries with the fleet. While under the guns of the enemy’s batteries they were cut loose, and I fear that some of them have been permitted to run past New Carthage undiscovered. They were relied upon to aid in the transportation of troops to take Grand Gulf.

The wagon road from here to within 2 miles of New Carthage is good for artillery. From that point on the bayou, levee is broken in a number of places, making cross currents in the bayou; hence it is difficult to navigate with barges. I think, by using our dredges constantly, until there is 20 feet fall. On this subject, however, I have not taken the opinion of an engineer officer, nor have I formed it upon sufficient investigation to warrant me in speaking positively.

Our experiment of running the batteries at Vicksburg, I think, has demonstrated the entire practicability of doing so with but little risk. On this occasion our vessels went down even slower than the current, using their wheels principally for backing. Two of the steamers were drawn into the eddy, and ran over a part of the distance in front of Vicksburg three times. I shall send six more steamers by the batteries as soon as they can possibly be got ready.

I sent a dispatch to General Banks that I thought I could send an army corps to Bayou Sara to co-operate with him on Port Hudson by the 25th. This will now be impossible. There shall be no unnecessary delay, however, in my movements. I hope very soon to be able to report our possession of Grand Gulf, with a practicable and safe route to furnish supplies to the troops. Once there, I do not feel a doubt of success in the entire cleaning out of the enemy from the banks of the river.

At least three of my army corps commanders take hold of the new policy of arming the negroes and using them against the enemy with a will. They, at lest, are so much of soldiers as to feel themselves under obligation to carry out a policy which they would not inaugurate in the same good faith and with the same zeal as if it was of their own choosing. You may rely on me carrying out any policy ordered by proper authority to the best of my ability.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 91-2

O.R., I, xxiv, part , 30-1

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