Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Volume One
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 5 out of 6

Memphis; and the best that could be done in such event would be to
weaken the points not threatened in order to reinforce the one that was.
Nothing could be gained on the National side by attacking elsewhere,
because the territory already occupied was as much as the force present
could guard. The most anxious period of the war, to me, was during the
time the Army of the Tennessee was guarding the territory acquired by
the fall of Corinth and Memphis and before I was sufficiently reinforced
to take the offensive. The enemy also had cavalry operating in our
rear, making it necessary to guard every point of the railroad back to
Columbus, on the security of which we were dependent for all our
supplies. Headquarters were connected by telegraph with all points of
the command except Memphis and the Mississippi below Columbus. With
these points communication was had by the railroad to Columbus, then
down the river by boat. To reinforce Memphis would take three or four
days, and to get an order there for troops to move elsewhere would have
taken at least two days. Memphis therefore was practically isolated
from the balance of the command. But it was in Sherman's hands. Then
too the troops were well intrenched and the gunboats made a valuable

During the two months after the departure of General Halleck there was
much fighting between small bodies of the contending armies, but these
encounters were dwarfed by the magnitude of the main battles so as to be
now almost forgotten except by those engaged in them. Some of them,
however, estimated by the losses on both sides in killed and wounded,
were equal in hard fighting to most of the battles of the Mexican war
which attracted so much of the attention of the public when they
occurred. About the 23d of July Colonel Ross, commanding at Bolivar,
was threatened by a large force of the enemy so that he had to be
reinforced from Jackson and Corinth. On the 27th there was skirmishing
on the Hatchie River, eight miles from Bolivar. On the 30th I learned
from Colonel P. H. Sheridan, who had been far to the south, that Bragg
in person was at Rome, Georgia, with his troops moving by rail (by way
of Mobile) to Chattanooga and his wagon train marching overland to join
him at Rome. Price was at this time at Holly Springs, Mississippi, with
a large force, and occupied Grand Junction as an outpost. I proposed to
the general-in-chief to be permitted to drive him away, but was informed
that, while I had to judge for myself, the best use to make of my troops
WAS NOT TO SCATTER THEM, but hold them ready to reinforce Buell.

The movement of Bragg himself with his wagon trains to Chattanooga
across country, while his troops were transported over a long
round-about road to the same destination, without need of guards except
when in my immediate front, demonstrates the advantage which troops
enjoy while acting in a country where the people are friendly. Buell
was marching through a hostile region and had to have his communications
thoroughly guarded back to a base of supplies. More men were required
the farther the National troops penetrated into the enemy's country. I,
with an army sufficiently powerful to have destroyed Bragg, was purely
on the defensive and accomplishing no more than to hold a force far
inferior to my own.

On the 2d of August I was ordered from Washington to live upon the
country, on the resources of citizens hostile to the government, so far
as practicable. I was also directed to "handle rebels within our lines
without gloves," to imprison them, or to expel them from their homes and
from our lines. I do not recollect having arrested and confined a
citizen (not a soldier) during the entire rebellion. I am aware that a
great many were sent to northern prisons, particularly to Joliet,
Illinois, by some of my subordinates with the statement that it was my
order. I had all such released the moment I learned of their arrest;
and finally sent a staff officer north to release every prisoner who was
said to be confined by my order. There were many citizens at home who
deserved punishment because they were soldiers when an opportunity was
afforded to inflict an injury to the National cause. This class was not
of the kind that were apt to get arrested, and I deemed it better that a
few guilty men should escape than that a great many innocent ones should

On the 14th of August I was ordered to send two more divisions to Buell.
They were sent the same day by way of Decatur. On the 22d Colonel
Rodney Mason surrendered Clarksville with six companies of his regiment.

Colonel Mason was one of the officers who had led their regiments off
the field at almost the first fire of the rebels at Shiloh. He was by
nature and education a gentleman, and was terribly mortified at his
action when the battle was over. He came to me with tears in his eyes
and begged to be allowed to have another trial. I felt great sympathy
for him and sent him, with his regiment, to garrison Clarksville and
Donelson. He selected Clarksville for his headquarters, no doubt
because he regarded it as the post of danger, it being nearer the enemy.
But when he was summoned to surrender by a band of guerillas, his
constitutional weakness overcame him. He inquired the number of men the
enemy had, and receiving a response indicating a force greater than his
own he said if he could be satisfied of that fact he would surrender.
Arrangements were made for him to count the guerillas, and having
satisfied himself that the enemy had the greater force he surrendered
and informed his subordinate at Donelson of the fact, advising him to do
the same. The guerillas paroled their prisoners and moved upon
Donelson, but the officer in command at that point marched out to meet
them and drove them away.

Among other embarrassments, at the time of which I now write, was the
fact that the government wanted to get out all the cotton possible from
the South and directed me to give every facility toward that end. Pay
in gold was authorized, and stations on the Mississippi River and on the
railroad in our possession had to be designated where cotton would be
received. This opened to the enemy not only the means of converting
cotton into money, which had a value all over the world and which they
so much needed, but it afforded them means of obtaining accurate and
intelligent information in regard to our position and strength. It was
also demoralizing to the troops. Citizens obtaining permits from the
treasury department had to be protected within our lines and given
facilities to get out cotton by which they realized enormous profits.
Men who had enlisted to fight the battles of their country did not like
to be engaged in protecting a traffic which went to the support of an
enemy they had to fight, and the profits of which went to men who shared
none of their dangers.

On the 30th of August Colonel M. D. Leggett, near Bolivar, with the 20th
and 29th Ohio volunteer infantry, was attacked by a force supposed to be
about 4,000 strong. The enemy was driven away with a loss of more than
one hundred men. On the 1st of September the bridge guard at Medon was
attacked by guerillas. The guard held the position until reinforced,
when the enemy were routed leaving about fifty of their number on the
field dead or wounded, our loss being only two killed and fifteen
wounded. On the same day Colonel Dennis, with a force of less than 500
infantry and two pieces of artillery, met the cavalry of the enemy in
strong force, a few miles west of Medon, and drove them away with great
loss. Our troops buried 179 of the enemy's dead, left upon the field.
Afterwards it was found that all the houses in the vicinity of the
battlefield were turned into hospitals for the wounded. Our loss, as
reported at the time, was forty-five killed and wounded. On the 2d of
September I was ordered to send more reinforcements to Buell. Jackson
and Bolivar were yet threatened, but I sent the reinforcements. On the
4th I received direct orders to send Granger's division also to
Louisville, Kentucky.

General Buell had left Corinth about the 10th of June to march upon
Chattanooga; Bragg, who had superseded Beauregard in command, sent one
division from Tupelo on the 27th of June for the same place. This gave
Buell about seventeen days' start. If he had not been required to repair
the railroad as he advanced, the march could have been made in eighteen
days at the outside, and Chattanooga must have been reached by the
National forces before the rebels could have possibly got there. The
road between Nashville and Chattanooga could easily have been put in
repair by other troops, so that communication with the North would have
been opened in a short time after the occupation of the place by the
National troops. If Buell had been permitted to move in the first
instance, with the whole of the Army of the Ohio and that portion of the
Army of the Mississippi afterwards sent to him, he could have thrown
four divisions from his own command along the line of road to repair and
guard it.

Granger's division was promptly sent on the 4th of September. I was at
the station at Corinth when the troops reached that point, and found
General P. H. Sheridan with them. I expressed surprise at seeing him
and said that I had not expected him to go. He showed decided
disappointment at the prospect of being detained. I felt a little
nettled at his desire to get away and did not detain him.

Sheridan was a first lieutenant in the regiment in which I had served
eleven years, the 4th infantry, and stationed on the Pacific coast when
the war broke out. He was promoted to a captaincy in May, 1861, and
before the close of the year managed in some way, I do not know how, to
get East. He went to Missouri. Halleck had known him as a very
successful young officer in managing campaigns against the Indians on
the Pacific coast, and appointed him acting-quartermaster in south-west
Missouri. There was no difficulty in getting supplies forward while
Sheridan served in that capacity; but he got into difficulty with his
immediate superiors because of his stringent rules for preventing the
use of public transportation for private purposes. He asked to be
relieved from further duty in the capacity in which he was engaged and
his request was granted. When General Halleck took the field in April,
1862, Sheridan was assigned to duty on his staff. During the advance on
Corinth a vacancy occurred in the colonelcy of the 2d Michigan cavalry.
Governor Blair, of Michigan, telegraphed General Halleck asking him to
suggest the name of a professional soldier for the vacancy, saying he
would appoint a good man without reference to his State. Sheridan was
named; and was so conspicuously efficient that when Corinth was reached
he was assigned to command a cavalry brigade in the Army of the
Mississippi. He was in command at Booneville on the 1st of July with
two small regiments, when he was attacked by a force full three times
as numerous as his own. By very skilful manoeuvres and boldness of
attack he completely routed the enemy. For this he was made a
brigadier-general and became a conspicuous figure in the army about
Corinth. On this account I was sorry to see him leaving me. His
departure was probably fortunate, for he rendered distinguished services
in his new field.

Granger and Sheridan reached Louisville before Buell got there, and on
the night of their arrival Sheridan with his command threw up works
around the railroad station for the defence of troops as they came from
the front.



At this time, September 4th, I had two divisions of the Army of the
Mississippi stationed at Corinth, Rienzi, Jacinto and Danville. There
were at Corinth also Davies' division and two brigades of McArthur's,
besides cavalry and artillery. This force constituted my left wing, of
which Rosecrans was in command. General Ord commanded the centre, from
Bethel to Humboldt on the Mobile and Ohio railroad and from Jackson to
Bolivar where the Mississippi Central is crossed by the Hatchie River.
General Sherman commanded on the right at Memphis with two of his
brigades back at Brownsville, at the crossing of the Hatchie River by
the Memphis and Ohio railroad. This made the most convenient
arrangement I could devise for concentrating all my spare forces upon
any threatened point. All the troops of the command were within
telegraphic communication of each other, except those under Sherman. By
bringing a portion of his command to Brownsville, from which point there
was a railroad and telegraph back to Memphis, communication could be had
with that part of my command within a few hours by the use of couriers.
In case it became necessary to reinforce Corinth, by this arrangement
all the troops at Bolivar, except a small guard, could be sent by rail
by the way of Jackson in less than twenty-four hours; while the troops
from Brownsville could march up to Bolivar to take their place.

On the 7th of September I learned of the advance of Van Dorn and Price,
apparently upon Corinth. One division was brought from Memphis to
Bolivar to meet any emergency that might arise from this move of the
enemy. I was much concerned because my first duty, after holding the
territory acquired within my command, was to prevent further reinforcing
of Bragg in Middle Tennessee. Already the Army of Northern Virginia had
defeated the army under General Pope and was invading Maryland. In the
Centre General Buell was on his way to Louisville and Bragg marching
parallel to him with a large Confederate force for the Ohio River.

I had been constantly called upon to reinforce Buell until at this time
my entire force numbered less than 50,000 men, of all arms. This
included everything from Cairo south within my jurisdiction. If I too
should be driven back, the Ohio River would become the line dividing the
belligerents west of the Alleghanies, while at the East the line was
already farther north than when hostilities commenced at the opening of
the war. It is true Nashville was never given up after its first
capture, but it would have been isolated and the garrison there would
have been obliged to beat a hasty retreat if the troops in West
Tennessee had been compelled to fall back. To say at the end of the
second year of the war the line dividing the contestants at the East was
pushed north of Maryland, a State that had not seceded, and at the West
beyond Kentucky, another State which had been always loyal, would have
been discouraging indeed. As it was, many loyal people despaired in the
fall of 1862 of ever saving the Union. The administration at Washington
was much concerned for the safety of the cause it held so dear. But I
believe there was never a day when the President did not think that, in
some way or other, a cause so just as ours would come out triumphant.

Up to the 11th of September Rosecrans still had troops on the railroad
east of Corinth, but they had all been ordered in. By the 12th all were
in except a small force under Colonel Murphy of the 8th Wisconsin. He
had been detained to guard the remainder of the stores which had not yet
been brought in to Corinth.

On the 13th of September General Sterling Price entered Iuka, a town
about twenty miles east of Corinth on the Memphis and Charleston
railroad. Colonel Murphy with a few men was guarding the place. He
made no resistance, but evacuated the town on the approach of the enemy.
I was apprehensive lest the object of the rebels might be to get troops
into Tennessee to reinforce Bragg, as it was afterwards ascertained to
be. The authorities at Washington, including the general-in-chief of
the army, were very anxious, as I have said, about affairs both in East
and Middle Tennessee; and my anxiety was quite as great on their account
as for any danger threatening my command. I had not force enough at
Corinth to attack Price even by stripping everything; and there was
danger that before troops could be got from other points he might be far
on his way across the Tennessee. To prevent this all spare forces at
Bolivar and Jackson were ordered to Corinth, and cars were concentrated
at Jackson for their transportation. Within twenty-four hours from the
transmission of the order the troops were at their destination, although
there had been a delay of four hours resulting from the forward train
getting off the track and stopping all the others. This gave a
reinforcement of near 8,000 men, General Ord in command. General
Rosecrans commanded the district of Corinth with a movable force of
about 9,000 independent of the garrison deemed necessary to be left
behind. It was known that General Van Dorn was about a four days' march
south of us, with a large force. It might have been part of his plan to
attack at Corinth, Price coming from the east while he came up from the
south. My desire was to attack Price before Van Dorn could reach
Corinth or go to his relief.

General Rosecrans had previously had his headquarters at Iuka, where his
command was spread out along the Memphis and Charleston railroad
eastward. While there he had a most excellent map prepared showing all
the roads and streams in the surrounding country. He was also
personally familiar with the ground, so that I deferred very much to him
in my plans for the approach. We had cars enough to transport all of
General Ord's command, which was to go by rail to Burnsville, a point on
the road about seven miles west of Iuka. From there his troops were to
march by the north side of the railroad and attack Price from the
north-west, while Rosecrans was to move eastward from his position south
of Corinth by way of the Jacinto road. A small force was to hold the
Jacinto road where it turns to the north-east, while the main force
moved on the Fulton road which comes into Iuka further east. This plan
was suggested by Rosecrans.

Bear Creek, a few miles to the east of the Fulton road, is a formidable
obstacle to the movement of troops in the absence of bridges, all of
which, in September, 1862, had been destroyed in that vicinity. The
Tennessee, to the north-east, not many miles away, was also a formidable
obstacle for an army followed by a pursuing force. Ord was on the
north-west, and even if a rebel movement had been possible in that
direction it could have brought only temporary relief, for it would have
carried Price's army to the rear of the National forces and isolated it
from all support. It looked to me that, if Price would remain in Iuka
until we could get there, his annihilation was inevitable.

On the morning of the 18th of September General Ord moved by rail to
Burnsville, and there left the cars and moved out to perform his part of
the programme. He was to get as near the enemy as possible during the
day and intrench himself so as to hold his position until the next
morning. Rosecrans was to be up by the morning of the 19th on the two
roads before described, and the attack was to be from all three quarters
simultaneously. Troops enough were left at Jacinto and Rienzi to detain
any cavalry that Van Dorn might send out to make a sudden dash into
Corinth until I could be notified. There was a telegraph wire along the
railroad, so there would be no delay in communication. I detained cars
and locomotives enough at Burnsville to transport the whole of Ord's
command at once, and if Van Dorn had moved against Corinth instead of
Iuka I could have thrown in reinforcements to the number of 7,000 or
8,000 before he could have arrived. I remained at Burnsville with a
detachment of about 900 men from Ord's command and communicated with my
two wings by courier. Ord met the advance of the enemy soon after
leaving Burnsville. Quite a sharp engagement ensued, but he drove the
rebels back with considerable loss, including one general officer
killed. He maintained his position and was ready to attack by daylight
the next morning. I was very much disappointed at receiving a dispatch
from Rosecrans after midnight from Jacinto, twenty-two miles from Iuka,
saying that some of his command had been delayed, and that the rear of
his column was not yet up as far as Jacinto. He said, however, that he
would still be at Iuka by two o'clock the next day. I did not believe
this possible because of the distance and the condition of the roads,
which was bad; besides, troops after a forced march of twenty miles are
not in a good condition for fighting the moment they get through. It
might do in marching to relieve a beleaguered garrison, but not to make
an assault. I immediately sent Ord a copy of Rosecrans' dispatch and
ordered him to be in readiness to attack the moment he heard the sound
of guns to the south or south-east. He was instructed to notify his
officers to be on the alert for any indications of battle. During the
19th the wind blew in the wrong direction to transmit sound either
towards the point where Ord was, or to Burnsville where I had remained.

A couple of hours before dark on the 19th Rosecrans arrived with the
head of his column at garnets, the point where the Jacinto road to Iuka
leaves the road going east. He here turned north without sending any
troops to the Fulton road. While still moving in column up the Jacinto
road he met a force of the enemy and had his advance badly beaten and
driven back upon the main road. In this short engagement his loss was
considerable for the number engaged, and one battery was taken from him.
The wind was still blowing hard and in the wrong direction to transmit
sounds towards either Ord or me. Neither he nor I nor any one in either
command heard a gun that was fired upon the battle-field. After the
engagement Rosecrans sent me a dispatch announcing the result. This was
brought by a courier. There was no road between Burnsville and the
position then occupied by Rosecrans and the country was impassable for a
man on horseback. The courier bearing the message was compelled to move
west nearly to Jacinto before he found a road leading to Burnsville.
This made it a late hour of the night before I learned of the battle
that had taken place during the afternoon. I at once notified Ord of
the fact and ordered him to attack early in the morning. The next
morning Rosecrans himself renewed the attack and went into Iuka with but
little resistance. Ord also went in according to orders, without
hearing a gun from the south of town but supposing the troops coming
from the south-west must be up by that time. Rosecrans, however, had
put no troops upon the Fulton road, and the enemy had taken advantage of
this neglect and retreated by that road during the night. Word was soon
brought to me that our troops were in Iuka. I immediately rode into
town and found that the enemy was not being pursued even by the cavalry.
I ordered pursuit by the whole of Rosecrans' command and went on with
him a few miles in person. He followed only a few miles after I left
him and then went into camp, and the pursuit was continued no further.
I was disappointed at the result of the battle of Iuka--but I had so
high an opinion of General Rosecrans that I found no fault at the time.



On the 19th of September General Geo. H. Thomas was ordered east to
reinforce Buell. This threw the army at my command still more on the
defensive. The Memphis and Charleston railroad was abandoned, except at
Corinth, and small forces were left at Chewalla and Grand Junction.
Soon afterwards the latter of these two places was given up and Bolivar
became our most advanced position on the Mississippi Central railroad.
Our cavalry was kept well to the front and frequent expeditions were
sent out to watch the movements of the enemy. We were in a country
where nearly all the people, except the negroes, were hostile to us and
friendly to the cause we were trying to suppress. It was easy,
therefore, for the enemy to get early information of our every move.
We, on the contrary, had to go after our information in force, and then
often returned without it.

On the 22d Bolivar was threatened by a large force from south of Grand
Junction, supposed to be twenty regiments of infantry with cavalry and
artillery. I reinforced Bolivar, and went to Jackson in person to
superintend the movement of troops to whatever point the attack might be
made upon. The troops from Corinth were brought up in time to repel the
threatened movement without a battle. Our cavalry followed the enemy
south of Davis' mills in Mississippi.

On the 30th I found that Van Dorn was apparently endeavoring to strike
the Mississippi River above Memphis. At the same time other points
within my command were so threatened that it was impossible to
concentrate a force to drive him away. There was at this juncture a
large Union force at Helena, Arkansas, which, had it been within my
command, I could have ordered across the river to attack and break up
the Mississippi Central railroad far to the south. This would not only
have called Van Dorn back, but would have compelled the retention of a
large rebel force far to the south to prevent a repetition of such raids
on the enemy's line of supplies. Geographical lines between the
commands during the rebellion were not always well chosen, or they were
too rigidly adhered to.

Van Dorn did not attempt to get upon the line above Memphis, as had
apparently been his intention. He was simply covering a deeper design;
one much more important to his cause. By the 1st of October it was
fully apparent that Corinth was to be attacked with great force and
determination, and that Van Dorn, Lovell, Price, Villepigue and Rust had
joined their strength for this purpose. There was some skirmishing
outside of Corinth with the advance of the enemy on the 3d. The rebels
massed in the north-west angle of the Memphis and Charleston and the
Mobile and Ohio railroads, and were thus between the troops at Corinth
and all possible reinforcements. Any fresh troops for us must come by a
circuitous route.

On the night of the 3d, accordingly, I ordered General McPherson, who
was at Jackson, to join Rosecrans at Corinth with reinforcements picked
up along the line of the railroad equal to a brigade. Hurlbut had been
ordered from Bolivar to march for the same destination; and as Van Dorn
was coming upon Corinth from the north-west some of his men fell in with
the advance of Hurlbut's and some skirmishing ensued on the evening of
the 3d. On the 4th Van Dorn made a dashing attack, hoping, no doubt, to
capture Rosecrans before his reinforcements could come up. In that case
the enemy himself could have occupied the defences of Corinth and held
at bay all the Union troops that arrived. In fact he could have taken
the offensive against the reinforcements with three or four times their
number and still left a sufficient garrison in the works about Corinth
to hold them. He came near success, some of his troops penetrating the
National lines at least once, but the works that were built after
Halleck's departure enabled Rosecrans to hold his position until the
troops of both McPherson and Hurlbut approached towards the rebel front
and rear. The enemy was finally driven back with great slaughter: all
their charges, made with great gallantry, were repulsed. The loss on
our side was heavy, but nothing to compare with Van Dorn's. McPherson
came up with the train of cars bearing his command as close to the enemy
as was prudent, debarked on the rebel flank and got in to the support of
Rosecrans just after the repulse. His approach, as well as that of
Hurlbut, was known to the enemy and had a moral effect. General
Rosecrans, however, failed to follow up the victory, although I had
given specific orders in advance of the battle for him to pursue the
moment the enemy was repelled. He did not do so, and I repeated the
order after the battle. In the first order he was notified that the
force of 4,000 men which was going to his assistance would be in great
peril if the enemy was not pursued.

General Ord had joined Hurlbut on the 4th and being senior took command
of his troops. This force encountered the head of Van Dorn's retreating
column just as it was crossing the Hatchie by a bridge some ten miles
out from Corinth. The bottom land here was swampy and bad for the
operations of troops, making a good place to get an enemy into. Ord
attacked the troops that had crossed the bridge and drove them back in a
panic. Many were killed, and others were drowned by being pushed off
the bridge in their hurried retreat. Ord followed and met the main
force. He was too weak in numbers to assault, but he held the bridge
and compelled the enemy to resume his retreat by another bridge higher
up the stream. Ord was wounded in this engagement and the command
devolved on Hurlbut.

Rosecrans did not start in pursuit till the morning of the 5th and then
took the wrong road. Moving in the enemy's country he travelled with a
wagon train to carry his provisions and munitions of war. His march was
therefore slower than that of the enemy, who was moving towards his
supplies. Two or three hours of pursuit on the day of battle, without
anything except what the men carried on their persons, would have been
worth more than any pursuit commenced the next day could have possibly
been. Even when he did start, if Rosecrans had followed the route taken
by the enemy, he would have come upon Van Dorn in a swamp with a stream
in front and Ord holding the only bridge; but he took the road leading
north and towards Chewalla instead of west, and, after having marched as
far as the enemy had moved to get to the Hatchie, he was as far from
battle as when he started. Hurlbut had not the numbers to meet any such
force as Van Dorn's if they had been in any mood for fighting, and he
might have been in great peril.

I now regarded the time to accomplish anything by pursuit as past and,
after Rosecrans reached Jonesboro, I ordered him to return. He kept on
to Ripley, however, and was persistent in wanting to go farther. I
thereupon ordered him to halt and submitted the matter to the
general-in-chief, who allowed me to exercise my judgment in the matter,
but inquired "why not pursue?" Upon this I ordered Rosecrans back. Had
he gone much farther he would have met a greater force than Van Dorn had
at Corinth and behind intrenchments or on chosen ground, and the
probabilities are he would have lost his army.

The battle of Corinth was bloody, our loss being 315 killed, 1,812
wounded and 232 missing. The enemy lost many more. Rosecrans reported
1,423 dead and 2,225 prisoners. We fought behind breastworks, which
accounts in some degree for the disparity. Among the killed on our side
was General Hackelman. General Oglesby was badly, it was for some time
supposed mortally, wounded. I received a congratulatory letter from the
President, which expressed also his sorrow for the losses.

This battle was recognized by me as being a decided victory, though not
so complete as I had hoped for, nor nearly so complete as I now think
was within the easy grasp of the commanding officer at Corinth. Since
the war it is known that the result, as it was, was a crushing blow to
the enemy, and felt by him much more than it was appreciated at the
North. The battle relieved me from any further anxiety for the safety
of the territory within my jurisdiction, and soon after receiving
reinforcements I suggested to the general-in-chief a forward movement
against Vicksburg.

On the 23d of October I learned of Pemberton's being in command at Holly
Springs and much reinforced by conscripts and troops from Alabama and
Texas. The same day General Rosecrans was relieved from duty with my
command, and shortly after he succeeded Buell in the command of the army
in Middle Tennessee. I was delighted at the promotion of General
Rosecrans to a separate command, because I still believed that when
independent of an immediate superior the qualities which I, at that
time, credited him with possessing, would show themselves. As a
subordinate I found that I could not make him do as I wished, and had
determined to relieve him from duty that very day.

At the close of the operations just described my force, in round
numbers, was 48,500. Of these 4,800 were in Kentucky and Illinois,
7,000 in Memphis, 19,200 from Mound City south, and 17,500 at Corinth.
General McClernand had been authorized from Washington to go north and
organize troops to be used in opening the Mississippi. These new levies
with other reinforcements now began to come in.

On the 25th of October I was placed in command of the Department of the
Tennessee. Reinforcements continued to come from the north and by the
2d of November I was prepared to take the initiative. This was a great
relief after the two and a half months of continued defence over a large
district of country, and where nearly every citizen was an enemy ready
to give information of our every move. I have described very
imperfectly a few of the battles and skirmishes that took place during
this time. To describe all would take more space than I can allot to
the purpose; to make special mention of all the officers and troops who
distinguished themselves, would take a volume. (*9)



Vicksburg was important to the enemy because it occupied the first high
ground coming close to the river below Memphis. From there a railroad
runs east, connecting with other roads leading to all points of the
Southern States. A railroad also starts from the opposite side of the
river, extending west as far as Shreveport, Louisiana. Vicksburg was
the only channel, at the time of the events of which this chapter
treats, connecting the parts of the Confederacy divided by the
Mississippi. So long as it was held by the enemy, the free navigation
of the river was prevented. Hence its importance. Points on the river
between Vicksburg and Port Hudson were held as dependencies; but their
fall was sure to follow the capture of the former place.

The campaign against Vicksburg commenced on the 2d of November as
indicated in a dispatch to the general-in-chief in the following words:
"I have commenced a movement on Grand Junction, with three divisions
from Corinth and two from Bolivar. Will leave here [Jackson, Tennessee]
to-morrow, and take command in person. If found practicable, I will go
to Holly Springs, and, may be, Grenada, completing railroad and
telegraph as I go."

At this time my command was holding the Mobile and Ohio railroad from
about twenty-five miles south of Corinth, north to Columbus, Kentucky;
the Mississippi Central from Bolivar north to its junction with the
Mobile and Ohio; the Memphis and Charleston from Corinth east to Bear
Creek, and the Mississippi River from Cairo to Memphis. My entire
command was no more than was necessary to hold these lines, and hardly
that if kept on the defensive. By moving against the enemy and into his
unsubdued, or not yet captured, territory, driving their army before us,
these lines would nearly hold themselves; thus affording a large force
for field operations. My moving force at that time was about 30,000
men, and I estimated the enemy confronting me, under Pemberton, at about
the same number. General McPherson commanded my left wing and General
C. S. Hamilton the centre, while Sherman was at Memphis with the right
wing. Pemberton was fortified at the Tallahatchie, but occupied Holly
Springs and Grand Junction on the Mississippi Central railroad. On the
8th we occupied Grand Junction and La Grange, throwing a considerable
force seven or eight miles south, along the line of the railroad. The
road from Bolivar forward was repaired and put in running order as the
troops advanced.

Up to this time it had been regarded as an axiom in war that large
bodies of troops must operate from a base of supplies which they always
covered and guarded in all forward movements. There was delay therefore
in repairing the road back, and in gathering and forwarding supplies to
the front.

By my orders, and in accordance with previous instructions from
Washington, all the forage within reach was collected under the
supervision of the chief quartermaster and the provisions under the
chief commissary, receipts being given when there was any one to take
them; the supplies in any event to be accounted for as government
stores. The stock was bountiful, but still it gave me no idea of the
possibility of supplying a moving column in an enemy's country from the
country itself.

It was at this point, probably, where the first idea of a "Freedman's
Bureau" took its origin. Orders of the government prohibited the
expulsion of the negroes from the protection of the army, when they came
in voluntarily. Humanity forbade allowing them to starve. With such an
army of them, of all ages and both sexes, as had congregated about Grand
Junction, amounting to many thousands, it was impossible to advance.
There was no special authority for feeding them unless they were
employed as teamsters, cooks and pioneers with the army; but only
able-bodied young men were suitable for such work. This labor would
support but a very limited percentage of them. The plantations were all
deserted; the cotton and corn were ripe: men, women and children above
ten years of age could be employed in saving these crops. To do this
work with contrabands, or to have it done, organization under a
competent chief was necessary. On inquiring for such a man Chaplain
Eaton, now and for many years the very able United States Commissioner
of Education, was suggested. He proved as efficient in that field as he
has since done in his present one. I gave him all the assistants and
guards he called for. We together fixed the prices to be paid for the
negro labor, whether rendered to the government or to individuals. The
cotton was to be picked from abandoned plantations, the laborers to
receive the stipulated price (my recollection is twelve and a half cents
per pound for picking and ginning) from the quartermaster, he shipping
the cotton north to be sold for the benefit of the government. Citizens
remaining on their plantations were allowed the privilege of having
their crops saved by freedmen on the same terms.

At once the freedmen became self-sustaining. The money was not paid to
them directly, but was expended judiciously and for their benefit. They
gave me no trouble afterwards.

Later the freedmen were engaged in cutting wood along the Mississippi
River to supply the large number of steamers on that stream. A good
price was paid for chopping wood used for the supply of government
steamers (steamers chartered and which the government had to supply with
fuel). Those supplying their own fuel paid a much higher price. In
this way a fund was created not only sufficient to feed and clothe all,
old and young, male and female, but to build them comfortable cabins,
hospitals for the sick, and to supply them with many comforts they had
never known before.

At this stage of the campaign against Vicksburg I was very much
disturbed by newspaper rumors that General McClernand was to have a
separate and independent command within mine, to operate against
Vicksburg by way of the Mississippi River. Two commanders on the same
field are always one too many, and in this case I did not think the
general selected had either the experience or the qualifications to fit
him for so important a position. I feared for the safety of the troops
intrusted to him, especially as he was to raise new levies, raw troops,
to execute so important a trust. But on the 12th I received a dispatch
from General Halleck saying that I had command of all the troops sent to
my department and authorizing me to fight the enemy where I pleased.
The next day my cavalry was in Holly Springs, and the enemy fell back
south of the Tallahatchie.

Holly Springs I selected for my depot of supplies and munitions of war,
all of which at that time came by rail from Columbus, Kentucky, except
the few stores collected about La Grange and Grand Junction. This was a
long line (increasing in length as we moved south) to maintain in an
enemy's country. On the 15th of November, while I was still at Holly
Springs, I sent word to Sherman to meet me at Columbus. We were but
forty-seven miles apart, yet the most expeditious way for us to meet was
for me to take the rail to Columbus and Sherman a steamer for the same
place. At that meeting, besides talking over my general plans I gave
him his orders to join me with two divisions and to march them down the
Mississippi Central railroad if he could. Sherman, who was always
prompt, was up by the 29th to Cottage Hill, ten miles north of Oxford.
He brought three divisions with him, leaving a garrison of only four
regiments of infantry, a couple of pieces of artillery and a small
detachment of cavalry. Further reinforcements he knew were on their way
from the north to Memphis. About this time General Halleck ordered
troops from Helena, Arkansas (territory west of the Mississippi was not
under my command then) to cut the road in Pemberton's rear. The
expedition was under Generals Hovey and C. C. Washburn and was
successful so far as reaching the railroad was concerned, but the damage
done was very slight and was soon repaired.

The Tallahatchie, which confronted me, was very high, the railroad
bridge destroyed and Pemberton strongly fortified on the south side. A
crossing would have been impossible in the presence of an enemy. I sent
the cavalry higher up the stream and they secured a crossing. This
caused the enemy to evacuate their position, which was possibly
accelerated by the expedition of Hovey and Washburn. The enemy was
followed as far south as Oxford by the main body of troops, and some
seventeen miles farther by McPherson's command. Here the pursuit was
halted to repair the railroad from the Tallahatchie northward, in order
to bring up supplies. The piles on which the railroad bridge rested had
been left standing. The work of constructing a roadway for the troops
was but a short matter, and, later, rails were laid for cars.

During the delay at Oxford in repairing railroads I learned that an
expedition down the Mississippi now was inevitable and, desiring to have
a competent commander in charge, I ordered Sherman on the 8th of
December back to Memphis to take charge. The following were his orders:

Headquarters 13th Army Corps, Department of the Tennessee. OXFORD,
MISSISSIPPI, December 8,1862.

MAJOR-GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Right Wing:

You will proceed, with as little delay as possible, to Memphis,
Tennessee, taking with you one division of your present command. On
your arrival at Memphis you will assume command of all the troops there,
and that portion of General Curtis's forces at present east of the
Mississippi River, and organize them into brigades and divisions in your
own army. As soon as possible move with them down the river to the
vicinity of Vicksburg, and with the co-operation of the gunboat fleet
under command of Flag-officer Porter proceed to the reduction of that
place in such a manner as circumstances, and your own judgment, may

The amount of rations, forage, land transportation, etc., necessary to
take, will be left entirely with yourself. The Quartermaster at St.
Louis will be instructed to send you transportation for 30,000 men;
should you still find yourself deficient, your quartermaster will be
authorized to make up the deficiency from such transports as may come
into the port of Memphis.

On arriving in Memphis, put yourself in communication with Admiral
Porter, and arrange with him for his co-operation.

Inform me at the earliest practicable day of the time when you will
embark, and such plans as may then be matured. I will hold the forces
here in readiness to co-operate with you in such manner as the movements
of the enemy may make necessary.

Leave the District of Memphis in the command of an efficient officer,
and with a garrison of four regiments of infantry, the siege guns, and
whatever cavalry may be there.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

This idea had presented itself to my mind earlier, for on the 3d of
December I asked Halleck if it would not be well to hold the enemy south
of the Yallabusha and move a force from Helena and Memphis on Vicksburg.
On the 5th again I suggested, from Oxford, to Halleck that if the Helena
troops were at my command I though it would be possible to take them and
the Memphis forces south of the mouth of the Yazoo River, and thus
secure Vicksburg and the State of Mississippi. Halleck on the same day,
the 5th of December, directed me not to attempt to hold the country
south of the Tallahatchie, but to collect 25,000 troops at Memphis by
the 20th for the Vicksburg expedition. I sent Sherman with two
divisions at once, informed the general-in-chief of the fact, and asked
whether I should command the expedition down the river myself or send
Sherman. I was authorized to do as I though best for the accomplishment
of the great object in view. I sent Sherman and so informed General

As stated, my action in sending Sherman back was expedited by a desire
to get him in command of the forces separated from my direct
supervision. I feared that delay might bring McClernand, who was his
senior and who had authority from the President and Secretary of War to
exercise that particular command,--and independently. I doubted
McClernand's fitness; and I had good reason to believe that in
forestalling him I was by no means giving offence to those whose
authority to command was above both him and me.

Neither my orders to General Sherman, nor the correspondence between us
or between General Halleck and myself, contemplated at the time my going
further south than the Yallabusha. Pemberton's force in my front was the
main part of the garrison of Vicksburg, as the force with me was the
defence of the territory held by us in West Tennessee and Kentucky. I
hoped to hold Pemberton in my front while Sherman should get in his rear
and into Vicksburg. The further north the enemy could be held the

It was understood, however, between General Sherman and myself that our
movements were to be co-operative; if Pemberton could not be held away
from Vicksburg I was to follow him; but at that time it was not expected
to abandon the railroad north of the Yallabusha. With that point as a
secondary base of supplies, the possibility of moving down the Yazoo
until communications could be opened with the Mississippi was

It was my intention, and so understood by Sherman and his command, that
if the enemy should fall back I would follow him even to the gates of
Vicksburg. I intended in such an event to hold the road to Grenada on
the Yallabusha and cut loose from there, expecting to establish a new
base of supplies on the Yazoo, or at Vicksburg itself, with Grenada to
fall back upon in case of failure. It should be remembered that at the
time I speak of it had not been demonstrated that an army could operate
in an enemy's territory depending upon the country for supplies. A halt
was called at Oxford with the advance seventeen miles south of there, to
bring up the road to the latter point and to bring supplies of food,
forage and munitions to the front.

On the 18th of December I received orders from Washington to divide my
command into four army corps, with General McClernand to command one of
them and to be assigned to that part of the army which was to operate
down the Mississippi. This interfered with my plans, but probably
resulted in my ultimately taking the command in person. McClernand was
at that time in Springfield, Illinois. The order was obeyed without any
delay. Dispatches were sent to him the same day in conformity.

On the 20th General Van Dorn appeared at Holly Springs, my secondary
base of supplies, captured the garrison of 1,500 men commanded by
Colonel Murphy, of the 8th Wisconsin regiment, and destroyed all our
munitions of war, food and forage. The capture was a disgraceful one to
the officer commanding but not to the troops under him. At the same
time Forrest got on our line of railroad between Jackson, Tennessee, and
Columbus, Kentucky, doing much damage to it. This cut me off from all
communication with the north for more than a week, and it was more than
two weeks before rations or forage could be issued from stores obtained
in the regular way. This demonstrated the impossibility of maintaining
so long a line of road over which to draw supplies for an army moving in
an enemy's country. I determined, therefore, to abandon my campaign
into the interior with Columbus as a base, and returned to La Grange and
Grand Junction destroying the road to my front and repairing the road to
Memphis, making the Mississippi river the line over which to draw
supplies. Pemberton was falling back at the same time.

The moment I received the news of Van Dorn's success I sent the cavalry
at the front back to drive him from the country. He had start enough to
move north destroying the railroad in many places, and to attack several
small garrisons intrenched as guards to the railroad. All these he
found warned of his coming and prepared to receive him. Van Dorn did
not succeed in capturing a single garrison except the one at Holly
Springs, which was larger than all the others attacked by him put
together. Murphy was also warned of Van Dorn's approach, but made no
preparations to meet him. He did not even notify his command.

Colonel Murphy was the officer who, two months before, had evacuated
Iuka on the approach of the enemy. General Rosecrans denounced him for
the act and desired to have him tried and punished. I sustained the
colonel at the time because his command was a small one compared with
that of the enemy--not one-tenth as large--and I thought he had done
well to get away without falling into their hands. His leaving large
stores to fall into Price's possession I looked upon as an oversight and
excused it on the ground of inexperience in military matters. He should,
however, have destroyed them. This last surrender demonstrated to my
mind that Rosecrans' judgment of Murphy's conduct at Iuka was correct.
The surrender of Holly Springs was most reprehensible and showed either
the disloyalty of Colonel Murphy to the cause which he professed to
serve, or gross cowardice.

After the war was over I read from the diary of a lady who accompanied
General Pemberton in his retreat from the Tallahatchie, that the retreat
was almost a panic. The roads were bad and it was difficult to move the
artillery and trains. Why there should have been a panic I do not see.
No expedition had yet started down the Mississippi River. Had I known
the demoralized condition of the enemy, or the fact that central
Mississippi abounded so in all army supplies, I would have been in
pursuit of Pemberton while his cavalry was destroying the roads in my

After sending cavalry to drive Van Dorn away, my next order was to
dispatch all the wagons we had, under proper escort, to collect and
bring in all supplies of forage and food from a region of fifteen miles
east and west of the road from our front back to Grand Junction, leaving
two months' supplies for the families of those whose stores were taken.
I was amazed at the quantity of supplies the country afforded. It
showed that we could have subsisted off the country for two months
instead of two weeks without going beyond the limits designated. This
taught me a lesson which was taken advantage of later in the campaign
when our army lived twenty days with the issue of only five days'
rations by the commissary. Our loss of supplies was great at Holly
Springs, but it was more than compensated for by those taken from the
country and by the lesson taught.

The news of the capture of Holly Springs and the destruction of our
supplies caused much rejoicing among the people remaining in Oxford.
They came with broad smiles on their faces, indicating intense joy, to
ask what I was going to do now without anything for my soldiers to eat.
I told them that I was not disturbed; that I had already sent troops and
wagons to collect all the food and forage they could find for fifteen
miles on each side of the road. Countenances soon changed, and so did
the inquiry. The next was, "What are WE to do?" My response was that
we had endeavored to feed ourselves from our own northern resources
while visiting them; but their friends in gray had been uncivil enough
to destroy what we had brought along, and it could not be expected that
men, with arms in their hands, would starve in the midst of plenty. I
advised them to emigrate east, or west, fifteen miles and assist in
eating up what we left.



This interruption in my communications north--I was really cut off from
communication with a great part of my own command during this time
--resulted in Sherman's moving from Memphis before McClernand could
arrive, for my dispatch of the 18th did not reach McClernand. Pemberton
got back to Vicksburg before Sherman got there. The rebel positions
were on a bluff on the Yazoo River, some miles above its mouth. The
waters were high so that the bottoms were generally overflowed, leaving
only narrow causeways of dry land between points of debarkation and the
high bluffs. These were fortified and defended at all points. The
rebel position was impregnable against any force that could be brought
against its front. Sherman could not use one-fourth of his force. His
efforts to capture the city, or the high ground north of it, were
necessarily unavailing.

Sherman's attack was very unfortunate, but I had no opportunity of
communicating with him after the destruction of the road and telegraph
to my rear on the 20th. He did not know but what I was in the rear of
the enemy and depending on him to open a new base of supplies for the
troops with me. I had, before he started from Memphis, directed him to
take with him a few small steamers suitable for the navigation of the
Yazoo, not knowing but that I might want them to supply me after cutting
loose from my base at Grenada.

On the 23d I removed my headquarters back to Holly Springs. The troops
were drawn back gradually, but without haste or confusion, finding
supplies abundant and no enemy following. The road was not damaged
south of Holly Springs by Van Dorn, at least not to an extent to cause
any delay. As I had resolved to move headquarters to Memphis, and to
repair the road to that point, I remained at Holly Springs until this
work was completed.

On the 10th of January, the work on the road from Holly Springs to Grand
Junction and thence to Memphis being completed, I moved my headquarters
to the latter place. During the campaign here described, the losses
(mostly captures) were about equal, crediting the rebels with their
Holly Springs capture, which they could not hold.

When Sherman started on his expedition down the river he had 20,000 men,
taken from Memphis, and was reinforced by 12,000 more at Helena,
Arkansas. The troops on the west bank of the river had previously been
assigned to my command. McClernand having received the orders for his
assignment reached the mouth of the Yazoo on the 2d of January, and
immediately assumed command of all the troops with Sherman, being a part
of his own corps, the 13th, and all of Sherman's, the 15th. Sherman,
and Admiral Porter with the fleet, had withdrawn from the Yazoo. After
consultation they decided that neither the army nor navy could render
service to the cause where they were, and learning that I had withdrawn
from the interior of Mississippi, they determined to return to the
Arkansas River and to attack Arkansas Post, about fifty miles up that
stream and garrisoned by about five or six thousand men. Sherman had
learned of the existence of this force through a man who had been
captured by the enemy with a steamer loaded with ammunition and other
supplies intended for his command. The man had made his escape.
McClernand approved this move reluctantly, as Sherman says. No obstacle
was encountered until the gunboats and transports were within range of
the fort. After three days' bombardment by the navy an assault was made
by the troops and marines, resulting in the capture of the place, and in
taking 5,000 prisoners and 17 guns. I was at first disposed to
disapprove of this move as an unnecessary side movement having no
especial bearing upon the work before us; but when the result was
understood I regarded it as very important. Five thousand Confederate
troops left in the rear might have caused us much trouble and loss of
property while navigating the Mississippi.

Immediately after the reduction of Arkansas Post and the capture of the
garrison, McClernand returned with his entire force to Napoleon, at the
mouth of the Arkansas River. From here I received messages from both
Sherman and Admiral Porter, urging me to come and take command in
person, and expressing their distrust of McClernand's ability and
fitness for so important and intricate an expedition.

On the 17th I visited McClernand and his command at Napoleon. It was
here made evident to me that both the army and navy were so distrustful
of McClernand's fitness to command that, while they would do all they
could to insure success, this distrust was an element of weakness. It
would have been criminal to send troops under these circumstances into
such danger. By this time I had received authority to relieve
McClernand, or to assign any person else to the command of the river
expedition, or to assume command in person. I felt great embarrassment
about McClernand. He was the senior major-general after myself within
the department. It would not do, with his rank and ambition, to assign
a junior over him. Nothing was left, therefore, but to assume the
command myself. I would have been glad to put Sherman in command, to
give him an opportunity to accomplish what he had failed in the December
before; but there seemed no other way out of the difficulty, for he was
junior to McClernand. Sherman's failure needs no apology.

On the 20th I ordered General McClernand with the entire command, to
Young's Point and Milliken's Bend, while I returned to Memphis to make
all the necessary preparation for leaving the territory behind me
secure. General Hurlbut with the 16th corps was left in command. The
Memphis and Charleston railroad was held, while the Mississippi Central
was given up. Columbus was the only point between Cairo and Memphis, on
the river, left with a garrison. All the troops and guns from the posts
on the abandoned railroad and river were sent to the front.

On the 29th of January I arrived at Young's Point and assumed command
the following day. General McClernand took exception in a most
characteristic way--for him. His correspondence with me on the subject
was more in the nature of a reprimand than a protest. It was highly
insubordinate, but I overlooked it, as I believed, for the good of the
service. General McClernand was a politician of very considerable
prominence in his State; he was a member of Congress when the secession
war broke out; he belonged to that political party which furnished all
the opposition there was to a vigorous prosecution of the war for saving
the Union; there was no delay in his declaring himself for the Union at
all hazards, and there was no uncertain sound in his declaration of
where he stood in the contest before the country. He also gave up his
seat in Congress to take the field in defence of the principles he had

The real work of the campaign and siege of Vicksburg now began. The
problem was to secure a footing upon dry ground on the east side of the
river from which the troops could operate against Vicksburg. The
Mississippi River, from Cairo south, runs through a rich alluvial valley
of many miles in width, bound on the east by land running from eighty up
to two or more hundred feet above the river. On the west side the
highest land, except in a few places, is but little above the highest
water. Through this valley the river meanders in the most tortuous way,
varying in direction to all points of the compass. At places it runs to
the very foot of the bluffs. After leaving Memphis, there are no such
highlands coming to the water's edge on the east shore until Vicksburg
is reached.

The intervening land is cut up by bayous filled from the river in high
water--many of them navigable for steamers. All of them would be,
except for overhanging trees, narrowness and tortuous course, making it
impossible to turn the bends with vessels of any considerable length.
Marching across this country in the face of an enemy was impossible;
navigating it proved equally impracticable. The strategical way
according to the rule, therefore, would have been to go back to Memphis;
establish that as a base of supplies; fortify it so that the storehouses
could be held by a small garrison, and move from there along the line of
railroad, repairing as we advanced, to the Yallabusha, or to Jackson,
Mississippi. At this time the North had become very much discouraged.
Many strong Union men believed that the war must prove a failure. The
elections of 1862 had gone against the party which was for the
prosecution of the war to save the Union if it took the last man and the
last dollar. Voluntary enlistments had ceased throughout the greater
part of the North, and the draft had been resorted to to fill up our
ranks. It was my judgment at the time that to make a backward movement
as long as that from Vicksburg to Memphis, would be interpreted, by many
of those yet full of hope for the preservation of the Union, as a
defeat, and that the draft would be resisted, desertions ensue and the
power to capture and punish deserters lost. There was nothing left to be
done but to go FORWARD TO A DECISIVE VICTORY. This was in my mind from
the moment I took command in person at Young's Point.

The winter of 1862-3 was a noted one for continuous high water in the
Mississippi and for heavy rains along the lower river. To get dry land,
or rather land above the water, to encamp the troops upon, took many
miles of river front. We had to occupy the levees and the ground
immediately behind. This was so limited that one corps, the 17th, under
General McPherson, was at Lake Providence, seventy miles above

It was in January the troops took their position opposite Vicksburg.
The water was very high and the rains were incessant. There seemed no
possibility of a land movement before the end of March or later, and it
would not do to lie idle all this time. The effect would be
demoralizing to the troops and injurious to their health. Friends in
the North would have grown more and more discouraged, and enemies in the
same section more and more insolent in their gibes and denunciation of
the cause and those engaged in it.

I always admired the South, as bad as I thought their cause, for the
boldness with which they silenced all opposition and all croaking, by
press or by individuals, within their control. War at all times,
whether a civil war between sections of a common country or between
nations, ought to be avoided, if possible with honor. But, once entered
into, it is too much for human nature to tolerate an enemy within their
ranks to give aid and comfort to the armies of the opposing section or

Vicksburg, as stated before, is on the first high land coming to the
river's edge, below that on which Memphis stands. The bluff, or high
land, follows the left bank of the Yazoo for some distance and continues
in a southerly direction to the Mississippi River, thence it runs along
the Mississippi to Warrenton, six miles below. The Yazoo River leaves
the high land a short distance below Haines' Bluff and empties into the
Mississippi nine miles above Vicksburg. Vicksburg is built on this high
land where the Mississippi washes the base of the hill. Haines' Bluff,
eleven miles from Vicksburg, on the Yazoo River, was strongly fortified.
The whole distance from there to Vicksburg and thence to Warrenton was
also intrenched, with batteries at suitable distances and rifle-pits
connecting them.

From Young's Point the Mississippi turns in a north-easterly direction
to a point just above the city, when it again turns and runs
south-westerly, leaving vessels, which might attempt to run the blockade,
exposed to the fire of batteries six miles below the city before they
were in range of the upper batteries. Since then the river has made a
cut-off, leaving what was the peninsula in front of the city, an island.
North of the Yazoo was all a marsh, heavily timbered, cut up with
bayous, and much overflowed. A front attack was therefore impossible,
and was never contemplated; certainly not by me. The problem then
became, how to secure a landing on high ground east of the Mississippi
without an apparent retreat. Then commenced a series of experiments to
consume time, and to divert the attention of the enemy, of my troops and
of the public generally. I, myself, never felt great confidence that
any of the experiments resorted to would prove successful. Nevertheless
I was always prepared to take advantage of them in case they did.

In 1862 General Thomas Williams had come up from New Orleans and cut a
ditch ten or twelve feet wide and about as deep, straight across from
Young's Point to the river below. The distance across was a little over
a mile. It was Williams' expectation that when the river rose it would
cut a navigable channel through; but the canal started in an eddy from
both ends, and, of course, it only filled up with water on the rise
without doing any execution in the way of cutting. Mr. Lincoln had
navigated the Mississippi in his younger days and understood well its
tendency to change its channel, in places, from time to time. He set
much store accordingly by this canal. General McClernand had been,
therefore, directed before I went to Young's Point to push the work of
widening and deepening this canal. After my arrival the work was
diligently pushed with about 4,000 men--as many as could be used to
advantage--until interrupted by a sudden rise in the river that broke a
dam at the upper end, which had been put there to keep the water out
until the excavation was completed. This was on the 8th of March.

Even if the canal had proven a success, so far as to be navigable for
steamers, it could not have been of much advantage to us. It runs in a
direction almost perpendicular to the line of bluffs on the opposite
side, or east bank, of the river. As soon as the enemy discovered what
we were doing he established a battery commanding the canal throughout
its length. This battery soon drove out our dredges, two in number,
which were doing the work of thousands of men. Had the canal been
completed it might have proven of some use in running transports
through, under the cover of night, to use below; but they would yet have
to run batteries, though for a much shorter distance.

While this work was progressing we were busy in other directions, trying
to find an available landing on high ground on the east bank of the
river, or to make water-ways to get below the city, avoiding the

On the 30th of January, the day after my arrival at the front, I ordered
General McPherson, stationed with his corps at Lake Providence, to cut
the levee at that point. If successful in opening a channel for
navigation by this route, it would carry us to the Mississippi River
through the mouth of the Red River, just above Port Hudson and four
hundred miles below Vicksburg by the river.

Lake Providence is a part of the old bed of the Mississippi, about a
mile from the present channel. It is six miles long and has its outlet
through Bayou Baxter, Bayou Macon, and the Tensas, Washita and Red
Rivers. The last three are navigable streams at all seasons. Bayous
Baxter and Macon are narrow and tortuous, and the banks are covered with
dense forests overhanging the channel. They were also filled with
fallen timber, the accumulation of years. The land along the
Mississippi River, from Memphis down, is in all instances highest next
to the river, except where the river washes the bluffs which form the
boundary of the valley through which it winds. Bayou Baxter, as it
reaches lower land, begins to spread out and disappears entirely in a
cypress swamp before it reaches the Macon. There was about two feet of
water in this swamp at the time. To get through it, even with vessels
of the lightest draft, it was necessary to clear off a belt of heavy
timber wide enough to make a passage way. As the trees would have to be
cut close to the bottom--under water--it was an undertaking of great

On the 4th of February I visited General McPherson, and remained with
him several days. The work had not progressed so far as to admit the
water from the river into the lake, but the troops had succeeded in
drawing a small steamer, of probably not over thirty tons' capacity,
from the river into the lake. With this we were able to explore the
lake and bayou as far as cleared. I saw then that there was scarcely a
chance of this ever becoming a practicable route for moving troops
through an enemy's country. The distance from Lake Providence to the
point where vessels going by that route would enter the Mississippi
again, is about four hundred and seventy miles by the main river. The
distance would probably be greater by the tortuous bayous through which
this new route would carry us. The enemy held Port Hudson, below where
the Red River debouches, and all the Mississippi above to Vicksburg.
The Red River, Washita and Tensas were, as has been said, all navigable
streams, on which the enemy could throw small bodies of men to obstruct
our passage and pick off our troops with their sharpshooters. I let the
work go on, believing employment was better than idleness for the men.
Then, too, it served as a cover for other efforts which gave a better
prospect of success. This work was abandoned after the canal proved a

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson of my staff was sent to Helena, Arkansas, to
examine and open a way through Moon Lake and the Yazoo Pass if possible.
Formerly there was a route by way of an inlet from the Mississippi River
into Moon Lake, a mile east of the river, thence east through Yazoo Pass
to Coldwater, along the latter to the Tallahatchie, which joins the
Yallabusha about two hundred and fifty miles below Moon Lake and forms
the Yazoo River. These were formerly navigated by steamers trading with
the rich plantations along their banks; but the State of Mississippi had
built a strong levee across the inlet some years before, leaving the
only entrance for vessels into this rich region the one by way of the
mouth of the Yazoo several hundreds of miles below.

On the 2d of February this dam, or levee, was cut. The river being high
the rush of water through the cut was so great that in a very short time
the entire obstruction was washed away. The bayous were soon filled and
much of the country was overflowed. This pass leaves the Mississippi
River but a few miles below Helena. On the 24th General Ross, with his
brigade of about 4,500 men on transports, moved into this new water-way.
The rebels had obstructed the navigation of Yazoo Pass and the Coldwater
by felling trees into them. Much of the timber in this region being of
greater specific gravity than water, and being of great size, their
removal was a matter of great labor; but it was finally accomplished,
and on the 11th of March Ross found himself, accompanied by two gunboats
under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, confronting a
fortification at Greenwood, where the Tallahatchie and Yallabusha unite
and the Yazoo begins. The bends of the rivers are such at this point as
to almost form an island, scarcely above water at that stage of the
river. This island was fortified and manned. It was named Fort
Pemberton after the commander at Vicksburg. No land approach was
accessible. The troops, therefore, could render no assistance towards
an assault further than to establish a battery on a little piece of
ground which was discovered above water. The gunboats, however,
attacked on the 11th and again on the 13th of March. Both efforts were
failures and were not renewed. One gunboat was disabled and we lost six
men killed and twenty-five wounded. The loss of the enemy was less.

Fort Pemberton was so little above the water that it was thought that a
rise of two feet would drive the enemy out. In hope of enlisting the
elements on our side, which had been so much against us up to this time,
a second cut was made in the Mississippi levee, this time directly
opposite Helena, or six miles above the former cut. It did not
accomplish the desired result, and Ross, with his fleet, started back.
On the 22d he met Quinby with a brigade at Yazoo Pass. Quinby was the
senior of Ross, and assumed command. He was not satisfied with
returning to his former position without seeing for himself whether
anything could be accomplished. Accordingly Fort Pemberton was
revisited by our troops; but an inspection was sufficient this time
without an attack. Quinby, with his command, returned with but little
delay. In the meantime I was much exercised for the safety of Ross, not
knowing that Quinby had been able to join him. Reinforcements were of
no use in a country covered with water, as they would have to remain on
board of their transports. Relief had to come from another quarter. So
I determined to get into the Yazoo below Fort Pemberton.

Steel's Bayou empties into the Yazoo River between Haines' Bluff and its
mouth. It is narrow, very tortuous, and fringed with a very heavy
growth of timber, but it is deep. It approaches to within one mile of
the Mississippi at Eagle Bend, thirty miles above Young's Point.
Steel's Bayou connects with Black Bayou, Black Bayou with Deer Creek,
Deer Creek with Rolling Fork, Rolling Fork with the Big Sunflower River,
and the Big Sunflower with the Yazoo River about ten miles above Haines'
Bluff in a right line but probably twenty or twenty-five miles by the
winding of the river. All these waterways are of about the same nature
so far as navigation is concerned, until the Sunflower is reached; this
affords free navigation.

Admiral Porter explored this waterway as far as Deer Creek on the 14th
of March, and reported it navigable. On the next day he started with
five gunboats and four mortar-boats. I went with him for some distance.
The heavy overhanging timber retarded progress very much, as did also
the short turns in so narrow a stream. The gunboats, however, ploughed
their way through without other damage than to their appearance. The
transports did not fare so well although they followed behind. The road
was somewhat cleared for them by the gunboats. In the evening I
returned to headquarters to hurry up reinforcements. Sherman went in
person on the 16th, taking with him Stuart's division of the 15th corps.
They took large river transports to Eagle Bend on the Mississippi, where
they debarked and marched across to Steel's Bayou, where they
re-embarked on the transports. The river steamers, with their tall
smokestacks and light guards extending out, were so much impeded that
the gunboats got far ahead. Porter, with his fleet, got within a few
hundred yards of where the sailing would have been clear and free from
the obstructions caused by felling trees into the water, when he
encountered rebel sharp-shooters, and his progress was delayed by
obstructions in his front. He could do nothing with gunboats against
sharpshooters. The rebels, learning his route, had sent in about 4,000
men--many more than there were sailors in the fleet.

Sherman went back, at the request of the admiral, to clear out Black
Bayou and to hurry up reinforcements, which were far behind. On the
night of the 19th he received notice from the admiral that he had been
attacked by sharp-shooters and was in imminent peril. Sherman at once
returned through Black Bayou in a canoe, and passed on until he met a
steamer, with the last of the reinforcements he had, coming up. They
tried to force their way through Black Bayou with their steamer, but,
finding it slow and tedious work, debarked and pushed forward on foot.
It was night when they landed, and intensely dark. There was but a
narrow strip of land above water, and that was grown up with underbrush
or cane. The troops lighted their way through this with candles carried
in their hands for a mile and a half, when they came to an open
plantation. Here the troops rested until morning. They made twenty-one
miles from this resting-place by noon the next day, and were in time to
rescue the fleet. Porter had fully made up his mind to blow up the
gunboats rather than have them fall into the hands of the enemy. More
welcome visitors he probably never met than the "boys in blue" on this
occasion. The vessels were backed out and returned to their rendezvous
on the Mississippi; and thus ended in failure the fourth attempt to get
in rear of Vicksburg.



The original canal scheme was also abandoned on the 27th of March. The
effort to make a waterway through Lake Providence and the connecting
bayous was abandoned as wholly impracticable about the same time.

At Milliken's Bend, and also at Young's Point, bayous or channels start,
which connecting with other bayous passing Richmond, Louisiana, enter
the Mississippi at Carthage twenty-five or thirty miles above Grand
Gulf. The Mississippi levee cuts the supply of water off from these
bayous or channels, but all the rainfall behind the levee, at these
points, is carried through these same channels to the river below. In
case of a crevasse in this vicinity, the water escaping would find its
outlet through the same channels. The dredges and laborers from the
canal having been driven out by overflow and the enemy's batteries, I
determined to open these other channels, if possible. If successful the
effort would afford a route, away from the enemy's batteries, for our
transports. There was a good road back of the levees, along these
bayous, to carry the troops, artillery and wagon trains over whenever
the water receded a little, and after a few days of dry weather.
Accordingly, with the abandonment of all the other plans for reaching a
base heretofore described, this new one was undertaken.

As early as the 4th of February I had written to Halleck about this
route, stating that I thought it much more practicable than the other
undertaking (the Lake Providence route), and that it would have been
accomplished with much less labor if commenced before the water had got
all over the country.

The upper end of these bayous being cut off from a water supply, further
than the rainfall back of the levees, was grown up with dense timber for
a distance of several miles from their source. It was necessary,
therefore, to clear this out before letting in the water from the river.
This work was continued until the waters of the river began to recede
and the road to Richmond, Louisiana, emerged from the water. One small
steamer and some barges were got through this channel, but no further
use could be made of it because of the fall in the river. Beyond this it
was no more successful than the other experiments with which the winter
was whiled away. All these failures would have been very discouraging
if I had expected much from the efforts; but I had not. From the first
the most I hoped to accomplish was the passage of transports, to be used
below Vicksburg, without exposure to the long line of batteries
defending that city.

This long, dreary and, for heavy and continuous rains and high water,
unprecedented winter was one of great hardship to all engaged about
Vicksburg. The river was higher than its natural banks from December,
1862, to the following April. The war had suspended peaceful pursuits
in the South, further than the production of army supplies, and in
consequence the levees were neglected and broken in many places and the
whole country was covered with water. Troops could scarcely find dry
ground on which to pitch their tents. Malarial fevers broke out among
the men. Measles and small-pox also attacked them. The hospital
arrangements and medical attendance were so perfect, however, that the
loss of life was much less than might have been expected. Visitors to
the camps went home with dismal stories to relate; Northern papers came
back to the soldiers with these stories exaggerated. Because I would
not divulge my ultimate plans to visitors, they pronounced me idle,
incompetent and unfit to command men in an emergency, and clamored for
my removal. They were not to be satisfied, many of them, with my simple
removal, but named who my successor should be. McClernand, Fremont,
Hunter and McClellan were all mentioned in this connection. I took no
steps to answer these complaints, but continued to do my duty, as I
understood it, to the best of my ability. Every one has his
superstitions. One of mine is that in positions of great responsibility
every one should do his duty to the best of his ability where assigned
by competent authority, without application or the use of influence to
change his position. While at Cairo I had watched with very great
interest the operations of the Army of the Potomac, looking upon that as
the main field of the war. I had no idea, myself, of ever having any
large command, nor did I suppose that I was equal to one; but I had the
vanity to think that as a cavalry officer I might succeed very well in
the command of a brigade. On one occasion, in talking about this to my
staff officers, all of whom were civilians without any military
education whatever, I said that I would give anything if I were
commanding a brigade of cavalry in the Army of the Potomac and I
believed I could do some good. Captain Hillyer spoke up and suggested
that I make application to be transferred there to command the cavalry.
I then told him that I would cut my right arm off first, and mentioned
this superstition.

In time of war the President, being by the Constitution
Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, is responsible for the
selection of commanders. He should not be embarrassed in making his
selections. I having been selected, my responsibility ended with my
doing the best I knew how. If I had sought the place, or obtained it
through personal or political influence, my belief is that I would have
feared to undertake any plan of my own conception, and would probably
have awaited direct orders from my distant superiors. Persons obtaining
important commands by application or political influence are apt to keep
a written record of complaints and predictions of defeat, which are
shown in case of disaster. Somebody must be responsible for their

With all the pressure brought to bear upon them, both President Lincoln
and General Halleck stood by me to the end of the campaign. I had never
met Mr. Lincoln, but his support was constant.

At last the waters began to recede; the roads crossing the peninsula
behind the levees of the bayous, were emerging from the waters; the
troops were all concentrated from distant points at Milliken's Bend
preparatory to a final move which was to crown the long, tedious and
discouraging labors with success.

I had had in contemplation the whole winter the movement by land to a
point below Vicksburg from which to operate, subject only to the
possible but not expected success of some one of the expedients resorted
to for the purpose of giving us a different base. This could not be
undertaken until the waters receded. I did not therefore communicate
this plan, even to an officer of my staff, until it was necessary to
make preparations for the start. My recollection is that Admiral Porter
was the first one to whom I mentioned it. The co-operation of the navy
was absolutely essential to the success (even to the contemplation) of
such an enterprise. I had no more authority to command Porter than he
had to command me. It was necessary to have part of his fleet below
Vicksburg if the troops went there. Steamers to use as ferries were
also essential. The navy was the only escort and protection for these
steamers, all of which in getting below had to run about fourteen miles
of batteries. Porter fell into the plan at once, and suggested that he
had better superintend the preparation of the steamers selected to run
the batteries, as sailors would probably understand the work better than
soldiers. I was glad to accept his proposition, not only because I
admitted his argument, but because it would enable me to keep from the
enemy a little longer our designs. Porter's fleet was on the east side
of the river above the mouth of the Yazoo, entirely concealed from the
enemy by the dense forests that intervened. Even spies could not get
near him, on account of the undergrowth and overflowed lands.
Suspicions of some mysterious movements were aroused. Our river guards
discovered one day a small skiff moving quietly and mysteriously up the
river near the east shore, from the direction of Vicksburg, towards the
fleet. On overhauling the boat they found a small white flag, not much
larger than a handkerchief, set up in the stern, no doubt intended as a
flag of truce in case of discovery. The boat, crew and passengers were
brought ashore to me. The chief personage aboard proved to be Jacob
Thompson, Secretary of the Interior under the administration of
President Buchanan. After a pleasant conversation of half an hour or
more I allowed the boat and crew, passengers and all, to return to
Vicksburg, without creating a suspicion that there was a doubt in my
mind as to the good faith of Mr. Thompson and his flag.

Admiral Porter proceeded with the preparation of the steamers for their
hazardous passage of the enemy's batteries. The great essential was to
protect the boilers from the enemy's shot, and to conceal the fires
under the boilers from view. This he accomplished by loading the
steamers, between the guards and boilers on the boiler deck up to the
deck above, with bales of hay and cotton, and the deck in front of the
boilers in the same way, adding sacks of grain. The hay and grain would
be wanted below, and could not be transported in sufficient quantity by
the muddy roads over which we expected to march.

Before this I had been collecting, from St. Louis and Chicago, yawls and
barges to be used as ferries when we got below. By the 16th of April
Porter was ready to start on his perilous trip. The advance, flagship
Benton, Porter commanding, started at ten o'clock at night, followed at
intervals of a few minutes by the Lafayette with a captured steamer, the
Price, lashed to her side, the Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburgh and
Carondelet--all of these being naval vessels. Next came the transports
--Forest Queen, Silver Wave and Henry Clay, each towing barges loaded
with coal to be used as fuel by the naval and transport steamers when
below the batteries. The gunboat Tuscumbia brought up the rear. Soon
after the start a battery between Vicksburg and Warrenton opened fire
across the intervening peninsula, followed by the upper batteries, and
then by batteries all along the line. The gunboats ran up close under
the bluffs, delivering their fire in return at short distances, probably
without much effect. They were under fire for more than two hours and
every vessel was struck many times, but with little damage to the
gunboats. The transports did not fare so well. The Henry Clay was
disabled and deserted by her crew. Soon after a shell burst in the
cotton packed about the boilers, set the vessel on fire and burned her
to the water's edge. The burning mass, however, floated down to
Carthage before grounding, as did also one of the barges in tow.

The enemy were evidently expecting our fleet, for they were ready to
light up the river by means of bonfires on the east side and by firing
houses on the point of land opposite the city on the Louisiana side.
The sight was magnificent, but terrible. I witnessed it from the deck
of a river transport, run out into the middle of the river and as low
down as it was prudent to go. My mind was much relieved when I learned
that no one on the transports had been killed and but few, if any,
wounded. During the running of the batteries men were stationed in the
holds of the transports to partially stop with cotton shot-holes that
might be made in the hulls. All damage was afterwards soon repaired
under the direction of Admiral Porter.

The experiment of passing batteries had been tried before this, however,
during the war. Admiral Farragut had run the batteries at Port Hudson
with the flagship Hartford and one iron-clad and visited me from below
Vicksburg. The 13th of February Admiral Porter had sent the gunboat
Indianola, Lieutenant-Commander George Brown commanding, below. She met
Colonel Ellet of the Marine brigade below Natchez on a captured steamer.
Two of the Colonel's fleet had previously run the batteries, producing
the greatest consternation among the people along the Mississippi from
Vicksburg (*10) to the Red River.

The Indianola remained about the mouth of the Red River some days, and
then started up the Mississippi. The Confederates soon raised the Queen
of the West, (*11) and repaired her. With this vessel and the ram Webb,
which they had had for some time in the Red River, and two other
steamers, they followed the Indianola. The latter was encumbered with
barges of coal in tow, and consequently could make but little speed
against the rapid current of the Mississippi. The Confederate fleet
overtook her just above Grand Gulf, and attacked her after dark on the
24th of February. The Indianola was superior to all the others in
armament, and probably would have destroyed them or driven them away,
but for her encumbrance. As it was she fought them for an hour and a
half, but, in the dark, was struck seven or eight times by the ram and
other vessels, and was finally disabled and reduced to a sinking
condition. The armament was thrown overboard and the vessel run ashore.
Officers and crew then surrendered.

I had started McClernand with his corps of four divisions on the 29th of
March, by way of Richmond, Louisiana, to New Carthage, hoping that he
might capture Grand Gulf before the balance of the troops could get
there; but the roads were very bad, scarcely above water yet. Some
miles from New Carthage the levee to Bayou Vidal was broken in several
places, overflowing the roads for the distance of two miles. Boats were
collected from the surrounding bayous, and some constructed on the spot
from such material as could be collected, to transport the troops across
the overflowed interval. By the 6th of April McClernand had reached New
Carthage with one division and its artillery, the latter ferried through
the woods by these boats. On the 17th I visited New Carthage in person,
and saw that the process of getting troops through in the way we were
doing was so tedious that a better method must be devised. The water
was falling, and in a few days there would not be depth enough to use
boats; nor would the land be dry enough to march over. McClernand had
already found a new route from Smith's plantation where the crevasse
occurred, to Perkins' plantation, eight to twelve miles below New
Carthage. This increased the march from Milliken's Bend from
twenty-seven to nearly forty miles. Four bridges had to be built across
bayous, two of them each over six hundred feet long, making about two
thousand feet of bridging in all. The river falling made the current in
these bayous very rapid, increasing the difficulty of building and
permanently fastening these bridges; but the ingenuity of the "Yankee
soldier" was equal to any emergency. The bridges were soon built of
such material as could be found near by, and so substantial were they
that not a single mishap occurred in crossing all the army with
artillery, cavalry and wagon trains, except the loss of one siege gun
(a thirty-two pounder). This, if my memory serves me correctly, broke
through the only pontoon bridge we had in all our march across the
peninsula. These bridges were all built by McClernand's command, under
the supervision of Lieutenant Hains of the Engineer Corps.

I returned to Milliken's Bend on the 18th or 19th, and on the 20th
issued the following final order for the movement of troops:

April 20, 1863.

Special Orders, No. 110. * * * * * *
* VIII. The following orders are published for the information and
guidance of the "Army in the Field," in its present movement to obtain a
foothold on the east bank of the Mississippi River, from which Vicksburg
can be approached by practicable roads.

First.--The Thirteenth army corps, Major-General John A. McClernand
commanding, will constitute the right wing.

Second.--The Fifteenth army corps, Major-General W. T. Sherman
commanding, will constitute the left wing.

Third.--The Seventeenth army corps, Major-General James B. McPherson
commanding, will constitute the centre.

Fourth.--The order of march to New Carthage will be from right to left.

Fifth.--Reserves will be formed by divisions from each army corps; or,
an entire army corps will be held as a reserve, as necessity may
require. When the reserve is formed by divisions, each division will
remain under the immediate command of its respective corps commander,
unless otherwise specially ordered for a particular emergency.

Sixth.--Troops will be required to bivouac, until proper facilities can
be afforded for the transportation of camp equipage.

Seventh.--In the present movement, one tent will be allowed to each
company for the protection of rations from rain; one wall tent for each
regimental headquarters; one wall tent for each brigade headquarters;
and one wall tent for each division headquarters; corps commanders
having the books and blanks of their respective commands to provide for,
are authorized to take such tents as are absolutely necessary, but not
to exceed the number allowed by General Orders No. 160, A. G. O., series
of 1862.

Eighth.--All the teams of the three army corps, under the immediate
charge of the quartermasters bearing them on their returns, will
constitute a train for carrying supplies and ordnance and the authorized
camp equipage of the army.

Ninth.--As fast as the Thirteenth army corps advances, the Seventeenth
army corps will take its place; and it, in turn, will be followed in
like manner by the Fifteenth army corps.

Tenth.--Two regiments from each army corps will be detailed by corps
commanders, to guard the lines from Richmond to New Carthage.

Eleventh.--General hospitals will be established by the medical director
between Duckport and Milliken's Bend. All sick and disabled soldiers
will be left in these hospitals. Surgeons in charge of hospitals will
report convalescents as fast as they become fit for duty. Each corps
commander will detail an intelligent and good drill officer, to remain
behind and take charge of the convalescents of their respective corps;
officers so detailed will organize the men under their charge into
squads and companies, without regard to the regiments they belong to;
and in the absence of convalescent commissioned officers to command
them, will appoint non-commissioned officers or privates. The force so
organized will constitute the guard of the line from Duckport to
Milliken's Bend. They will furnish all the guards and details required
for general hospitals, and with the contrabands that may be about the
camps, will furnish all the details for loading and unloading boats.

Twelfth.--The movement of troops from Milliken's Bend to New Carthage
will be so conducted as to allow the transportation of ten days' supply
of rations, and one-half the allowance of ordnance, required by previous

Thirteenth.--Commanders are authorized and enjoined to collect all the
beef cattle, corn and other necessary supplies on the line of march; but
wanton destruction of property, taking of articles useless for military
purposes, insulting citizens, going into and searching houses without
proper orders from division commanders, are positively prohibited. All
such irregularities must be summarily punished.

Fourteenth.--Brigadier-General J. C. Sullivan is appointed to the
command of all the forces detailed for the protection of the line from
here to New Carthage. His particular attention is called to General
Orders, No. 69, from Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, of date
March 20, 1863.


McClernand was already below on the Mississippi. Two of McPherson's
divisions were put upon the march immediately. The third had not yet
arrived from Lake Providence; it was on its way to Milliken's Bend and
was to follow on arrival.

Sherman was to follow McPherson. Two of his divisions were at Duckport
and Young's Point, and the third under Steele was under orders to return
from Greenville, Mississippi, where it had been sent to expel a rebel
battery that had been annoying our transports.

It had now become evident that the army could not be rationed by a wagon
train over the single narrow and almost impassable road between
Milliken's Bend and Perkins' plantation. Accordingly six more steamers
were protected as before, to run the batteries, and were loaded with
supplies. They took twelve barges in tow, loaded also with rations. On
the night of the 22d of April they ran the batteries, five getting
through more or less disabled while one was sunk. About half the barges
got through with their needed freight.

When it was first proposed to run the blockade at Vicksburg with river
steamers there were but two captains or masters who were willing to
accompany their vessels, and but one crew. Volunteers were called for
from the army, men who had had experience in any capacity in navigating
the western rivers. Captains, pilots, mates, engineers and deck-hands
enough presented themselves to take five times the number of vessels we
were moving through this dangerous ordeal. Most of them were from
Logan's division, composed generally of men from the southern part of
Illinois and from Missouri. All but two of the steamers were commanded
by volunteers from the army, and all but one so manned. In this
instance, as in all others during the war, I found that volunteers could
be found in the ranks and among the commissioned officers to meet every
call for aid whether mechanical or professional. Colonel W. S. Oliver
was master of transportation on this occasion by special detail.



On the 24th my headquarters were with the advance at Perkins'
plantation. Reconnoissances were made in boats to ascertain whether
there was high land on the east shore of the river where we might land
above Grand Gulf. There was none practicable. Accordingly the troops
were set in motion for Hard Times, twenty-two miles farther down the
river and nearly opposite Grand Gulf. The loss of two steamers and six
barges reduced our transportation so that only 10,000 men could be moved
by water. Some of the steamers that had got below were injured in their
machinery, so that they were only useful as barges towed by those less
severely injured. All the troops, therefore, except what could be
transported in one trip, had to march. The road lay west of Lake St.
Joseph. Three large bayous had to be crossed. They were rapidly
bridged in the same manner as those previously encountered. (*12)

On the 27th McClernand's corps was all at Hard Times, and McPherson's
was following closely. I had determined to make the attempt to effect a
landing on the east side of the river as soon as possible. Accordingly,
on the morning of the 29th, McClernand was directed to embark all the
troops from his corps that our transports and barges could carry. About
10,000 men were so embarked. The plan was to have the navy silence the
guns at Grand Gulf, and to have as many men as possible ready to debark
in the shortest possible time under cover of the fire of the navy and
carry the works by storm. The following order was issued:



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

All the troops you may have, except those ordered to remain behind, send
to a point nearly opposite Grand Gulf, where you 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 can be made and troops
collected for a forward movement.

Admiral Porter has proposed to place his boats in the 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 positions back from the city, out
of range of the gunboats, so 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 be 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; one, 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 the
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 to be touched until a movement commences.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

At 8 o'clock A.M., 29th, Porter made the attack with his entire strength
present, eight gunboats. For nearly five and a half hours the attack
was kept up without silencing a single gun of the enemy. All this time
McClernand's 10,000 men were huddled together on the transports in the
stream ready to attempt a landing if signalled. I occupied a tug from
which I could see the effect of the battle on both sides, within range
of the enemy's guns; but a small tug, without armament, was not
calculated to attract the fire of batteries while they were being
assailed themselves. About half-past one the fleet withdrew, seeing
their efforts were entirely unavailing. The enemy ceased firing as soon
as we withdrew. I immediately signalled the Admiral and went aboard his
ship. The navy lost in this engagement eighteen killed and fifty-six
wounded. A large proportion of these were of the crew of the flagship,
and most of those from a single shell which penetrated the ship's side
and exploded between decks where the men were working their guns. The
sight of the mangled and dying men which met my eye as I boarded the
ship was sickening.

Grand Gulf is on a high bluff where the river runs at the very foot of
it. It is as defensible upon its front as Vicksburg and, at that time,
would have been just as impossible to capture by a front attack. I
therefore requested Porter to run the batteries with his fleet that
night, and to take charge of the transports, all of which would be
wanted below.

There is a long tongue of land from the Louisiana side extending towards
Grand Gulf, made by the river running nearly east from about three miles
above and nearly in the opposite direction from that point for about the
same distance below. The land was so low and wet that it would not have
been practicable to march an army across but for a levee. I had had
this explored before, as well as the east bank below to ascertain if
there was a possible point of debarkation north of Rodney. It was found
that the top of the levee afforded a good road to march upon.

Porter, as was always the case with him, not only acquiesced in the
plan, but volunteered to use his entire fleet as transports. I had
intended to make this request, but he anticipated me. At dusk, when
concealed from the view of the enemy at Grand Gulf, McClernand landed
his command on the west bank. The navy and transports ran the batteries
successfully. The troops marched across the point of land under cover of
night, unobserved. By the time it was light the enemy saw our whole
fleet, ironclads, gunboats, river steamers and barges, quietly moving
down the river three miles below them, black, or rather blue, with
National troops.

When the troops debarked, the evening of the 29th, it was expected that
we would have to go to Rodney, about nine miles below, to find a
landing; but that night a colored man came in who informed me that a
good landing would be found at Bruinsburg, a few miles above Rodney,
from which point there was a good road leading to Port Gibson some
twelve miles in the interior. The information was found correct, and
our landing was effected without opposition.

Sherman had not left his position above Vicksburg yet. On the morning
of the 27th I ordered him to create a diversion by moving his corps up
the Yazoo and threatening an attack on Haines' Bluff.

My object was to compel Pemberton to keep as much force about Vicksburg
as I could, until I could secure a good footing on high land east of the
river. The move was eminently successful and, as we afterwards learned,
created great confusion about Vicksburg and doubts about our real
design. Sherman moved the day of our attack on Grand Gulf, the 29th,
with ten regiments of his command and eight gunboats which Porter had
left above Vicksburg.

He debarked his troops and apparently made every preparation to attack
the enemy while the navy bombarded the main forts at Haines' Bluff.
This move was made without a single casualty in either branch of the
service. On the first of May Sherman received orders from me (sent from
Hard Times the evening of the 29th of April) to withdraw from the front
of Haines' Bluff and follow McPherson with two divisions as fast as he

I had established a depot of supplies at Perkins' plantation. Now that
all our gunboats were below Grand Gulf it was possible that the enemy
might fit out boats in the Big Black with improvised armament and
attempt to destroy these supplies. McPherson was at Hard Times with a
portion of his corps, and the depot was protected by a part of his
command. The night of the 29th I directed him to arm one of the
transports with artillery and send it up to Perkins' plantation as a
guard; and also to have the siege guns we had brought along moved there
and put in position.

The embarkation below Grand Gulf took place at De Shroon's, Louisiana,
six miles above Bruinsburg, Mississippi. Early on the morning of 30th
of April McClernand's corps and one division of McPherson's corps were
speedily landed.

When this was effected I felt a degree of relief scarcely ever equalled
since. Vicksburg was not yet taken it is true, nor were its defenders
demoralized by any of our previous moves. I was now in the enemy's
country, with a vast river and the stronghold of Vicksburg between me
and my base of supplies. But I was on dry ground on the same side of
the river with the enemy. All the campaigns, labors, hardships and
exposures from the month of December previous to this time that had been
made and endured, were for the accomplishment of this one object.

I had with me the 13th corps, General McClernand commanding, and two
brigades of Logan's division of the 17th corps, General McPherson
commanding--in all not more than twenty thousand men to commence the
campaign with. These were soon reinforced by the remaining brigade of
Logan's division and Crocker's division of the 17th corps. On the 7th
of May I was further reinforced by Sherman with two divisions of his,
the 15th corps. My total force was then about thirty-three thousand

The enemy occupied Grand Gulf, Haines' Bluff and Jackson with a force of
nearly sixty thousand men. Jackson is fifty miles east of Vicksburg and
is connected with it by a railroad. My first problem was to capture
Grand Gulf to use as a base.

Bruinsburg is two miles from high ground. The bottom at that point is
higher than most of the low land in the valley of the Mississippi, and a
good road leads to the bluff. It was natural to expect the garrison
from Grand Gulf to come out to meet us and prevent, if they could, our
reaching this solid base. Bayou Pierre enters the Mississippi just
above Bruinsburg and, as it is a navigable stream and was high at the
time, in order to intercept us they had to go by Port Gibson, the
nearest point where there was a bridge to cross upon. This more than
doubled the distance from Grand Gulf to the high land back of
Bruinsburg. No time was to be lost in securing this foothold. Our
transportation was not sufficient to move all the army across the river
at one trip, or even two; but the landing of the 13th corps and one
division of the 17th was effected during the day, April 30th, and early
evening. McClernand was advanced as soon as ammunition and two days'
rations (to last five) could be issued to his men. The bluffs were
reached an hour before sunset and McClernand was pushed on, hoping to
reach Port Gibson and save the bridge spanning the Bayou Pierre before
the enemy could get there; for crossing a stream in the presence of an
enemy is always difficult. Port Gibson, too, is the starting point of
roads to Grand Gulf, Vicksburg and Jackson.

McClernand's advance met the enemy about five miles west of Port Gibson
at Thompson's plantation. There was some firing during the night, but
nothing rising to the dignity of a battle until daylight. The enemy had
taken a strong natural position with most of the Grand Gulf garrison,
numbering about seven or eight thousand men, under General Bowen. His
hope was to hold me in check until reinforcements under Loring could
reach him from Vicksburg; but Loring did not come in time to render much
assistance south of Port Gibson. Two brigades of McPherson's corps
followed McClernand as fast as rations and ammunition could be issued,
and were ready to take position upon the battlefield whenever the 13th
corps could be got out of the way.

The country in this part of Mississippi stands on edge, as it were, the
roads running along the ridges except when they occasionally pass from
one ridge to another. Where there are no clearings the sides of the
hills are covered with a very heavy growth of timber and with
undergrowth, and the ravines are filled with vines and canebrakes,
almost impenetrable. This makes it easy for an inferior force to delay,
if not defeat, a far superior one.

Near the point selected by Bowen to defend, the road to Port Gibson
divides, taking two ridges which do not diverge more than a mile or two
at the widest point. These roads unite just outside the town. This
made it necessary for McClernand to divide his force. It was not only
divided, but it was separated by a deep ravine of the character above
described. One flank could not reinforce the other except by marching
back to the junction of the roads. McClernand put the divisions of
Hovey, Carr and A. J. Smith upon the right-hand branch and Osterhaus on
the left. I was on the field by ten A.M., and inspected both flanks in
person. On the right the enemy, if not being pressed back, was at least
not repulsing our advance. On the left, however, Osterhaus was not
faring so well. He had been repulsed with some loss. As soon as the
road could be cleared of McClernand's troops I ordered up McPherson, who
was close upon the rear of the 13th corps, with two brigades of Logan's
division. This was about noon. I ordered him to send one brigade
(General John E. Smith's was selected) to support Osterhaus, and to move
to the left and flank the enemy out of his position. This movement
carried the brigade over a deep ravine to a third ridge and, when
Smith's troops were seen well through the ravine, Osterhaus was directed
to renew his front attack. It was successful and unattended by heavy
loss. The enemy was sent in full retreat on their right, and their left
followed before sunset. While the movement to our left was going on,
McClernand, who was with his right flank, sent me frequent requests for
reinforcements, although the force with him was not being pressed. I
had been upon the ground and knew it did not admit of his engaging all
the men he had. We followed up our victory until night overtook us
about two miles from Port Gibson; then the troops went into bivouac for
the night.



We started next morning for Port Gibson as soon as it was light enough
to see the road. We were soon in the town, and I was delighted to find
that the enemy had not stopped to contest our crossing further at the
bridge, which he had burned. The troops were set to work at once to
construct a bridge across the South Fork of the Bayou Pierre. At this
time the water was high and the current rapid. What might be called a
raft-bridge was soon constructed from material obtained from wooden
buildings, stables, fences, etc., which sufficed for carrying the whole
army over safely. Colonel J. H. Wilson, a member of my staff, planned
and superintended the construction of this bridge, going into the water
and working as hard as any one engaged. Officers and men generally
joined in this work. When it was finished the army crossed and marched
eight miles beyond to the North Fork that day. One brigade of Logan's
division was sent down the stream to occupy the attention of a rebel
battery, which had been left behind with infantry supports to prevent
our repairing the burnt railroad bridge. Two of his brigades were sent
up the bayou to find a crossing and reach the North Fork to repair the
bridge there. The enemy soon left when he found we were building a
bridge elsewhere. Before leaving Port Gibson we were reinforced by
Crocker's division, McPherson's corps, which had crossed the Mississippi
at Bruinsburg and come up without stopping except to get two days'
rations. McPherson still had one division west of the Mississippi
River, guarding the road from Milliken's Bend to the river below until
Sherman's command should relieve it.

On leaving Bruinsburg for the front I left my son Frederick, who had
joined me a few weeks before, on board one of the gunboats asleep, and
hoped to get away without him until after Grand Gulf should fall into
our hands; but on waking up he learned that I had gone, and being guided
by the sound of the battle raging at Thompson's Hill--called the Battle
of Port Gibson--found his way to where I was. He had no horse to ride
at the time, and I had no facilities for even preparing a meal. He,
therefore, foraged around the best he could until we reached Grand Gulf.
Mr. C. A. Dana, then an officer of the War Department, accompanied me on
the Vicksburg campaign and through a portion of the siege. He was in
the same situation as Fred so far as transportation and mess
arrangements were concerned. The first time I call to mind seeing
either of them, after the battle, they were mounted on two enormous
horses, grown white from age, each equipped with dilapidated saddles and

Our trains arrived a few days later, after which we were all perfectly

My son accompanied me throughout the campaign and siege, and caused no
anxiety either to me or to his mother, who was at home. He looked out
for himself and was in every battle of the campaign. His age, then not
quite thirteen, enabled him to take in all he saw, and to retain a
recollection of it that would not be possible in more mature years.

When the movement from Bruinsburg commenced we were without a wagon
train. The train still west of the Mississippi was carried around with
proper escort, by a circuitous route from Milliken's Bend to Hard Times
seventy or more miles below, and did not get up for some days after the
battle of Port Gibson. My own horses, headquarters' transportation,
servants, mess chest, and everything except what I had on, was with this
train. General A. J. Smith happened to have an extra horse at Bruinsburg
which I borrowed, with a saddle-tree without upholstering further than
stirrups. I had no other for nearly a week.

It was necessary to have transportation for ammunition. Provisions could
be taken from the country; but all the ammunition that can be carried on
the person is soon exhausted when there is much fighting. I directed,
therefore, immediately on landing that all the vehicles and draft
animals, whether horses, mules, or oxen, in the vicinity should be
collected and loaded to their capacity with ammunition. Quite a train
was collected during the 30th, and a motley train it was. In it could
be found fine carriages, loaded nearly to the top with boxes of
cartridges that had been pitched in promiscuously, drawn by mules with
plough, harness, straw collars, rope-lines, etc.; long-coupled wagons,
with racks for carrying cotton bales, drawn by oxen, and everything that
could be found in the way of transportation on a plantation, either for
use or pleasure. The making out of provision returns was stopped for
the time. No formalities were to retard our progress until a position
was secured when the time could be spared to observe them.

It was at Port Gibson I first heard through a Southern paper of the
complete success of Colonel Grierson, who was making a raid through
central Mississippi. He had started from La Grange April 17th with
three regiments of about 1,700 men. On the 21st he had detached Colonel
Hatch with one regiment to destroy the railroad between Columbus and
Macon and then return to La Grange. Hatch had a sharp fight with the
enemy at Columbus and retreated along the railroad, destroying it at
Okalona and Tupelo, and arriving in La Grange April 26. Grierson


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