I wrote to Asst. Secretary of War, Charles Dana
August 5th 1863.
Maj. C. a. Dana,
Your letter of the 22d of July is just received and it needs no assurance from me to inform you how glad I am to hear from you and to learn so much from the vicinity of Hd Qrs, Gen, Halleck and yourself were both very right in supposing that it would cause me more sadness than satisfaction to be ordered to the command of the Army of the Potomac. Here I know the officers and men and what each Gen. is capable of as a separate commander. There I would have all to learn. Here I know the geography of the country, and its resources. There it would be a new study. Besides more or less dissatisfaction would necessarily be produced by importing a General to command an Army already well supplied with those who have grown up, and been promoted, with it.
I am very anxious to take Mobile while I think it can be done with comparative ease. But this would have to be done from Pascagoula, or even a point further along on the coast, and through Banks’ Dept. He has not the troops to do it. I am sending one Army Corps, Ord’s, to Natchez so that if authorized they can be sent under Banks’ direction on this enterprise. In the mean time there are two little bodies of rebel Cavalry in the Mississippi valley, one on the East bank under Logan, and one on the West Bank under Harrison which can be cleaned out from Natchez and leave the river free.
Ord placed in the command of the 13th Army Corps has proven a very great relief to me. The change is better than 10 000 reinforcements.
I have been surprised at the health of this command after so long a campaign, and so much time in the trenches. When we first came into the city the sick report increased at so alarming a rate that I feared the whole command had to go through a spell of sickness after their relaxation. But the Army is now in very good trim for another campaign. Our Artillery however is in bad trim. Some of the pieces have been fired from over 3000 times and the brass rifled guns are entirely used up for present purposes.
With the present Army Corps Commanders nothing but entire harmony can ever exist throughout all parts of the Army of the Ten. The 13th Army Corps has been so long governed by Ambition, ignorance and insubordination however that Ord may make some enemies among his Generals, particularly among his Brigade Commanders, by drawing them up suddenly to a proper standard. I can relieve him some by changes.
I feel very grateful to you for your timely intercession in saving me from going to the Army of the Potomac. Whilst I would disobey no order I should beg very hard to be excused before accepting that command.
I should like very much to see Gen. Thomas out here. Since Hawkins absence there is no one with the negro troops to organize them effectively. Shepard is not fit and Col. Wood, I believe next in command, is absent without leave and I understand took off with him a lot of cotton picked up on the Miss, shore and several thousand dollars worth of prop furniture taken from the houses of two of the Gov’t, lesees. Wood is a preacher.
Two of the Commissioners appointed by Gen. Thomas, Field & Livermore are, in my opinion, great rascals. They are undoubtedly very unfit for their present places.
It is about time for the mail to close and I must do the same thing. I intended writing much more when I commenced but have been interrupted every thirty seconds and forget what I intended saying.
yours very truly
U. S. Grant
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 145-7