Gen. Franz Sigel commands the newly formed Department of West Virginia. I am ordering him to move up the Shenandoah Valley in an attempt to cut Lee’s army off from resupply from the west. I sent him this dispatch.
IN FIELD, CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA.,
March 29, 1864.
Major General FRANZ SIGEL,
My object in ordering General Crook here was with the view of learning from him the character of the country and roads in West Virginia, and to determine the practicability of ordering a co-operative movement from your department, in connection with other movements which will take place from other departments. Whilst the long line of railroad you have to guard may require all the force you have, as opposing armies now stand, for a movement toward the enemy, it looks to me that almost everything except a small force judiciously distributed for the protection of the most important bridges might be spared. I would direct, therefore, that you collect at Beverly all the force you can spare, not less than 8,000 infantry, three batteries of artillery, and 1,500 picked cavalry, to make a southward move. This force is to be exclusive of that now commanded by General Crook. The concentration of this force at Beverly should commence at once, and when ready reported to me by telegraph. I will direct the date of their departure hereafter, and the point at which they will strike, making this movement simultaneous and co-operative with movements elsewhere. Troops should be required to travel as light as possible and to live off the country where it can be done.
In this latter case, however, indiscriminate marauding should be avoided. Nothing should be taken not absolutely necessary for the troops, except when captured from an armed enemy. Impressments should all be made under orders from the commanding officer and by disbursing officer. Receipts should be given for all property taken, so that the loyal may collect pay and the property be accounted for.
Major General E. O. C. Ord is ordered to report to you to be assigned to the command of this expedition. General Averell being acquainted with the country through which your forces will operate, I would suggest that he command the cavalry part of the expedition in person. Every facility should be given General Ord to accumulate at Beverly all the supplies and equipments needed by him. I would suppose that ten days’ supply for his command would be required. If you have a pontoon train that, too, might be wanted with the expedition. You will give your own directions in this matter, however, and will not doubt see that the proper supply of war munitions, pioneer tools, &c., are sent.
General Crook will be held in readiness to move at the same time with General Ord, throwing his infantry south to hold the enemy from coming through the mountain gaps which they now hold, while, with his cavalry, he marches his way through to the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad and destroys it. His route probably should be left to himself. After striking the road he should, however, move eastward, destroying the railroad as he moves, and join General Ord. Once united, this force will be sufficient to choose their own route and time for returning to their base, or for executing such orders as may hereafter be given.
I have ordered two more regiments of cavalry to report at Charleston, W. Va., and if I can, will order infantry to report for the protection of the railroad. I do not see now where infantry is to come from, but will keep it in mind if it can be got.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 236-7
O.R., I, xxxiii, p 765-6