“Commence immediately the embarkation of your corps”

Apr 27 1863.  I returned to Gen. McClernand’s camp at Perkin’s Plantation to find that he had ignored my order to board his troops on the transports.  I wrote a letter of reprimand, but decided to discard it when I saw that he had made good progress in organizing the camp and transports.  Instead, I reissued the order.

PERKINS’ PLANTATION, La., April 27, 1863.

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

Commence immediately the embarkation of your corps, or so much of it as there is transportation for. Have put aboard the artillery and every article authorized in orders limiting baggage, except the men, and hold them in readiness, with their places assigned, to be moved at a moment’s warning. All the troops you may have, except those ordered to remain behind, send to a point nearly opposite Grand Gulf, where, you will see by Special Orders of this date, General McPherson is ordered to send one DIVISION.

The plan of the attack will be for the navy to attack and silence all the batteries commanding the river. Your corps will be on the river, ready to run to and debark on the nearest eligible land below the promontory first brought to view passing down the river. Once on shore, have each commander instructed beforehand to form his men the best the ground will admit of, and take possession of the most commanding points, but avoid separating your command so that it cannot support itself. The first object is to get a foothold where our troops can maintain themselves until such time as preparations themselves until such time as preparations can be made and troops collected for a forward movement.

Admiral Porter has proposed to place position indicated to you a few days ago, and to bring over with them such troops as may be below the city after the guns of the enemy are silenced.

It may be that the enemy will occupy [such] positions back from the city, out of range of the gunboats, as to make it desirable to run past Grand Gulf and land at Rodney. In case this should prove the plan, a signal will be arranged, and you duly informed when the transports are to start with this view. Or it may expedient for the boats to run past, but not the men. In this case, then, the transports would have to be brought back to where the men could land, and move by forced marches to below Grand Gulf, re-embark rapidly, and proceed to the latter place. There will be required, then, three signals to indicate that the transports can run down and debark the troops at Grand Gulf-one that the transports can run by without the troops, and the last that transports can run by with the troops on board.

Should the men have to march, all baggage and artillery will be left to run the blockade.

If not already directed, require your men to keep three days’ rations in their haversacks, not be touched until a movement commences.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 126-7

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 237-8

Ninety-Eight Days, Warren E. Grabau, p 89

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 81

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