The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Vol. I., Part 2
William T. Sherman

Part 3 out of 6

exercise public authority; but I must take time, and be satisfied
that injustice be not done.

If the parties named be the men you describe, the fact should not
be published, to put them on their guard and thus to encourage
their escape. The evidence should be carefully collected,
authenticated, and then placed in my hands. But your statement of
facts is entirely qualified; in my mind, and loses its force by
your negligence of the very simple facts within your reach as to
myself: I had been in the army six years in 1846; am not related by
blood to any member of Lucas, Turner & Co.; was associated with
them in business six years (instead of two); am not colonel of the
Fifteenth Infantry, but of the Thirteenth. Your correction, this
morning, of the acknowledged error as to General Denver and others,
is still erroneous. General Morgan L. Smith did not belong to my
command at the battle of Shiloh at all, but he was transferred to
my division just before reaching Corinth. I mention these facts in
kindness, to show you how wrong it is to speak of persons.

I will attend to the judge, mayor, Boards of Aldermen, and
policemen, all in good time.

Use your influence to reestablish system, order, government. You
may rest easy that no military commander is going to neglect
internal safety, or to guard against external danger; but to do
right requires time, and more patience than I usually possess. If
I find the press of Memphis actuated by high principle and a sole
devotion to their country, I will be their best friend; but, if I
find them personal, abusive, dealing in innuendoes and hints at a
blind venture, and looking to their own selfish aggrandizement and
fame, then they had better look out; for I regard such persons as
greater enemies to their country and to mankind than the men who,
from a mistaken sense of State pride, have taken up muskets, and
fight us about as hard as we care about. In haste, but in
kindness, yours, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, July 27, 1882.

JOHN PARK, Mayor of Memphis, present.

Sir: Yours of July 24th is before me, and has received, as all
similar papers ever will, my careful and most respectful
consideration. I have the most unbounded respect for the civil
law, courts, and authorities, and shall do all in my power to
restore them to their proper use, viz., the protection of life,
liberty, and property.

Unfortunately, at this time, civil war prevails in the land, and
necessarily the military, for the time being, must be superior to
the civil authority, but it does not therefore destroy it. Civil
courts and executive officers should still exist and perform
duties, without which civil or municipal bodies would soon pass
into disrespect--an end to be avoided. I am glad to find in
Memphis a mayor and municipal authorities not only in existence,
but in the co-exercise of important functions, and I shall endeavor
to restore one or more civil tribunals for the arbitration of
contracts and punishment of crimes, which the military have neither
time nor inclination to interfere with. Among these, first in
importance is the maintenance of order, peace, and quiet, within
the jurisdiction of Memphis. To insure this, I will keep a strong
provost guard in the city, but will limit their duty to guarding
public property held or claimed by the United States, and for the
arrest and confinement of State prisoners and soldiers who are
disorderly or improperly away from their regiments. This guard
ought not to arrest citizens for disorder or minor crimes. This
should be done by the city police. I understand that the city
police is too weak in numbers to accomplish this perfectly, and I
therefore recommend that the City Council at once take steps to
increase this force to a number which, in their judgment, day and
night can enforce your ordinances as to peace, quiet, and order; so
that any change in our military dispositions will not have a
tendency to leave your people unguarded. I am willing to instruct
the provost guard to assist the police force when any combination
is made too strong for them to overcome; but the city police should
be strong enough for any probable contingency. The cost of
maintaining this police force must necessarily fall upon all
citizens equitably. I am not willing, nor do I think it good
policy, for the city authorities to collect the taxes belonging to
the State and County, as you recommend; for these would have to be
refunded. Better meet the expenses at once by a new tax on all
interested. Therefore, if you, on consultation with the proper
municipal body, will frame a good bill for the increase of your
police force, and for raising the necessary means for their support
and maintenance, I will approve it and aid you in the collection of
the tax. Of course, I cannot suggest how this tax should be laid,
but I think that it should be made uniform on all interests, real
estate, and personal property, including money, and merchandise.

All who are protected should share the expenses in proportion to
the interests involved. I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

MEMPHIS, August 7, 1862.

Captain FITCH, Assistant Quartermaster, Memphis, Tennessee.

SIR: The duties devolving on the quartermaster of this post, in
addition to his legitimate functions, are very important and
onerous, and I am fully aware that the task is more than should
devolve on one man. I will endeavor to get you help in the person
of some commissioned officer, and, if possible, one under bond, as
he must handle large amounts of money in trust; but, for the
present, we most execute the duties falling to our share as well as
possible. On the subject of vacant houses, General Grant's orders
are: "Take possession of all vacant stores and houses in the city,
and have them rented at reasonable rates; rent to be paid monthly
in advance. These buildings, with their tenants, can be turned
over to proprietors on proof of loyalty; also take charge of such
as have been leased out by disloyal owners."

I understand that General Grant takes the rents and profits of this
class of real property under the rules and laws of war, and not
under the confiscation act of Congress; therefore the question of
title is not involved simply the possession, and the rents and
profits of houses belonging to our enemies, which are not vacant,
we hold in trust for them or the Government, according to the
future decisions of the proper tribunals.

Mr. McDonald, your chief agent in renting and managing this
business, called on me last evening and left with me written
questions, which it would take a volume to answer and a Webster to
elucidate; but as we can only attempt plain, substantial justice, I
will answer these questions as well as I can, briefly and to the

First. When ground is owned by parties who have gone south, and
have leased the ground to parties now in the city who own the
improvements on the ground?

Answer. The United States takes the rents due the owner of the
land; does not disturb the owner of the improvements.

Second. When parties owning houses have gone south, and the tenant
has given his notes for the rent in advance?

Answer. Notes are mere evidence of the debt due landlord. The
tenant pays the rent to the quartermaster, who gives a bond of
indemnity against the notes representing the debt for the
particular rent.

Third. When the tenant has expended several months' rent in
repairs on the house?

Answer. Of course, allow all such credits on reasonable proof and

Fourth. When the owner has gone south, and parties here hold liens
on the property and are collecting the rents to satisfy their

Answer. The rent of a house can only be mortgaged to a person in
possession. If a loyal tenant be in possession and claim the rent
from himself as due to himself on some other debt, allow it; but,
if not in actual possession of the property, rents are not good
liens for a debt, but must be paid to the quartermaster.

Fifth. Of parties claiming foreign protection?

Answer. Many claim foreign protection who are not entitled to it.
If they are foreign subjects residing for business in this,
country, they are entitled to consideration and protection so
long as they obey the laws of the country. If they occupy
houses belonging to absent rebels, they must pay rent to the
quarter-master. If they own property, they must occupy it by
themselves, tenants, or servants.

Eighth. When houses are occupied and the owner has gone south,
leaving an agent to collect rent for his benefit?

Answer. Rent must be paid to the quartermaster. No agent can
collect and remit money south without subjecting himself to arrest
and trial for aiding and abetting the public enemy.

Ninth.. When houses are owned by loyal citizens, but are

Answer. Such should not be disturbed, but it would be well to
advise them to have some servant at the house to occupy it.

Tenth. When parties who occupy the house are creditors of the
owner, who has gone south? Answer. You only look to collection of
rents. Any person who transmits money south is liable to arrest
and trial for aiding and abetting the enemy; but I do not think it
our business to collect debts other than rents.

Eleventh. When the parties who own the property have left the city
under General Hovey's Order No. 1, but are in the immediate
neighborhood, on their plantations?

Answer. It makes no difference where they are, so they are absent.

Twelfth. When movable property is found in stores that are closed?

Answer. The goods are security for the rent. If the owner of the
goods prefers to remove the goods to paying rent, he can do so.

Thirteenth. When the owner lives in town, and refuses to take the
oath of allegiance?

Answer. If the house be occupied, it does not fall under the
order. If the house be vacant, it does. The owner can recover his
property by taking the oath.

All persons in Memphis residing within our military lines are
presumed to be loyal, good citizens, and may at any moment be
called to serve on juries, posses comitatua, or other civil service
required by the Constitution and laws of our country. Should they
be called upon to do such duty, which would require them to
acknowledge their allegiance and subordination to the Constitution
of the United States, it would then be too late to refuse. So long
as they remain quiet and conform to these laws, they are entitled
to protection in their property and lives.

We have nothing to do with confiscation. We only deal with
possession, and therefore the necessity of a strict accountability,
because the United States assumes the place of trustee, and must
account to the rightful owner for his property, rents, and profits.
In due season courts will be established to execute the laws, the
confiscation act included, when we will be relieved of this duty
and trust. Until that time, every opportunity should be given to
the wavering and disloyal to return to their allegiance to the
Constitution of their birth or adoption. I am, etc.,


Major-General commanding.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, August 26,1862

Major-General GRANT, Corinth, Mississippi.

Sir: In pursuance of your request that I should keep you advised of
matters of interest here, in addition to the purely official
matters, I now write.

I dispatched promptly the thirteen companies of cavalry, nine of
Fourth Illinois, and four of Eleventh Illinois, to their respective
destinations, punctually on the 23d instant, although the order was
only received on the 22d. I received at the same time, from
Colonel Dickey, the notice that the bridge over Hatchie was burned,
and therefore I prescribed their order of march via Bolivar. They
started at 12 m. of the 23d, and I have no news of them since.
None of the cavalry ordered to me is yet heard from.

The guerrillas have destroyed several bridges over Wolf Creek; one
at Raleigh, on the road by which I had prescribed trade and travel
to and from the city. I have a strong guard at the lower bridge
over Wolf River, by which we can reach the country to the north of
that stream; but, as the Confederates have burned their own
bridges, I will hold them to my order, and allow no trade over any
other road than the one prescribed, using the lower or Randolph
road for our own convenience. I am still satisfied there is no
large force of rebels anywhere in the neighborhood. All the navy
gunboats are below except the St. Louis, which lies off the city.
When Commodore Davis passes down from Cairo, I will try to see him,
and get him to exchange the St. Louis for a fleeter boat not
iron-clad; one that can move up and down the river, to break up
ferry-boats and canoes, and to prevent all passing across the
river. Of course, in spite of all our efforts, smuggling is
carried on. We occasionally make hauls of clothing, gold-lace,
buttons, etc., but I am satisfied that salt and arms are got to the
interior somehow. I have addressed the Board of Trade a letter on
this point, which will enable us to control it better.

You may have been troubled at hearing reports of drunkenness here.
There was some after pay-day, but generally all is as quiet and
orderly as possible. I traverse the city every day and night, and
assert that Memphis is and has been as orderly a city as St. Louis,
Cincinnati, or New York.

Before the city authorities undertook to license saloons, there was
as much whiskey here as now, and it would take all my command as
customhouse inspectors, to break open all the parcels and packages
containing liquor. I can destroy all groggeries and shops where
soldiers get liquor just as we would in St. Louis.

The newspapers are accusing me of cruelty to the sick; as base a
charge as was ever made. I would not let the Sanitary Committee
carry off a boat-load of sick, because I have no right to. We have
good hospitals here, and plenty of them. Our regimental hospitals
are in the camps of the men, and the sick do much better there than
in the general hospitals; so say my division surgeon and the
regimental surgeons. The civilian doctors would, if permitted,
take away our entire command. General Curtis sends his sick up
here, but usually no nurses; and it is not right that nurses should
be taken from my command for his sick. I think that, when we are
endeavoring to raise soldiers and to instruct them, it is bad
policy to keep them at hospitals as attendants and nurses.

I send you Dr. Derby's acknowledgment that he gave the leave of
absence of which he was charged. I have placed him in arrest, in
obedience to General Halleck's orders, but he remains in charge of
the Overton Hospital, which is not full of patients.

The State Hospital also is not full, and I cannot imagine what Dr.
Derby wants with the Female Academy on Vance Street. I will see
him again, and now that he is the chief at Overton Hospital, I
think he will not want the academy. Still, if he does, under your
orders I will cause it to be vacated by the children and Sisters of
Mercy. They have just advertised for more scholars, and will be
sadly disappointed. If, however, this building or any other be
needed for a hospital, it must be taken; but really, in my heart, I
do not see what possible chance there is, under present
circumstances, of filling with patients the two large hospitals now
in use, besides the one asked for. I may, however, be mistaken in
the particular building asked for by Dr. Derby, and will go myself
to see.

The fort is progressing well, Captain Jenney having arrived.
Sixteen heavy guns are received, with a large amount of shot and
shell, but the platforms are not yet ready; still, if occasion
should arise for dispatch, I can put a larger force to work.
Captain Prime, when here, advised that the work should proceed
regularly under the proper engineer officers and laborers.
I am, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 4, 1862

Colonel J. C, KELTON, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of
the army, Washington, D. C.

DEAR COLONEL: Please acknowledge to the major-general commanding
the receipt by me of his letter, and convey to him my assurances
that I have promptly modified my first instructions about cotton,
so as to conform to his orders. Trade in cotton is now free, but
in all else I endeavor so to control it that the enemy shall
receive no contraband goods, or any aid or comfort; still I feel
sure that the officers of steamboats are sadly tempted by high
prices to land salt and other prohibited articles at waypoints
along the river. This, too, in time will be checked. All seems
well here and hereabout; no large body of the enemy within striking
distance. A force of about two thousand, cavalry passed through
Grand Junction north last Friday, and fell on a detachment of the
Bolivar army at Middleburg, the result of which is doubtless
reported to you. As soon as I heard of the movement, I dispatched
a force to the southeast by way of diversion, and am satisfied that
the enemy's infantry and artillery fell back in consequence behind
the Tallahatchie. The weather is very hot, country very dry, and
dust as bad as possible. I hold my two divisions ready, with their
original complement of transportation, for field service. Of
course all things most now depend on events in front of Washington
and in Kentucky. The gunboat Eastport and four transports loaded
with prisoners of war destined for Vicksburg have been lying before
Memphis for two days, but are now steaming up to resume their
voyage. Our fort progresses well, but our guns are not yet
mounted. The engineers are now shaping the banquette to receive
platforms. I expect Captain Prime from Corinth in two or three

I am, with great respect, yours,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 21, 1862

Editor Bulletin.

SIR: Your comments on the recent orders of Generals Halleck and
McClellan afford the occasion appropriate for me to make public the
fact that there is a law of Congress, as old as our Government
itself, but reenacted on the 10th of April, 1806, and in force ever
since. That law reads:

"All officers and soldiers are to behave themselves orderly in
quarters and on the march; and whoever shall commit any waste or
spoil, either in walks of trees, parks, warrens, fish-ponds, houses
and gardens, cornfields, inclosures or meadows, or shall
maliciously destroy any property whatever belonging to the
inhabitants of the United States, unless by order of the
commander-in-chief of the armies of said United States, shall
(besides such penalties as they are liable to by law) be punished
according to the nature and degree of the offense, by the judgment
of a general or regimental court-martial."

Such is the law of Congress; and the orders of the commander-
in-chief are, that officers or soldiers convicted of straggling and
pillaging shall be punished with death. These orders have not come
to me officially, but I have seen them in newspapers, and am
satisfied that they express the determination of the commander-
in-chief. Straggling and pillaging have ever been great military
crimes; and every officer and soldier in my command knows what
stress I have laid upon them, and that, so far as in my power lies,
I will punish them to the full extent of the law and orders.

The law is one thing, the execution of the law another. God
himself has commanded: "Thou shalt not kill," "thou shalt not
steal," "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods," etc. Will
any one say these things are not done now as well as before these
laws were announced at Sinai. I admit the law to be that "no officer
or soldier of the United States shall commit waste or destruction
of cornfields, orchards, potato-patches, or any kind of pillage on
the property of friend or foe near Memphis," and that I stand
prepared to execute the law as far as possible.

No officer or soldier should enter the house or premises of any
peaceable citizen, no matter what his politics, unless on business;
and no such officer or soldier can force an entrance unless he have
a written order from a commanding officer or provost-marshal, which
written authority must be exhibited if demanded. When property
such as forage, building or other materials are needed by the
United States, a receipt will be given by the officer taking them,
which receipt should be presented to the quartermaster, who will
substitute therefor a regular voucher, to be paid-according to the
circumstances of the case. If the officer refuse to give such
receipt, the citizen may fairly infer that the property is
wrongfully taken, and he should, for his own protection, ascertain
the name, rank, and regiment of the officer, and report him in
writing. If any soldier commits waste or destruction, the person
whose property is thus wasted must find out the name, company, and
regiment of the actual transgressor. In order to punish there must
be a trial, and there must be testimony. It is not sufficient that
a general accusation be made, that soldiers are doing this or that.
I cannot punish my whole command, or a whole battalion, because one
or two bad soldiers do wrong. The punishment must reach the
perpetrators, and no one can identify them as well as the party who
is interested. The State of Tennessee does not hold itself
responsible for acts of larceny committed by her citizens, nor does
the United Staten or any other nation. These are individual acts
of wrong, and punishment can only be inflicted on the wrong-doer.
I know the difficulty of identifying particular soldiers, but
difficulties do not alter the importance of principles of justice.
They should stimulate the parties to increase their efforts to find
out the actual perpetrators of the crime.

Colonels of regiments and commanders of corps are liable to severe
punishment for permitting their men to leave their camps to commit
waste or destruction; but I know full well that many of the acts
attributed to soldiers are committed by citizens and negroes, and
are charged to soldiers because of a desire to find fault with
them; but this only reacts upon the community and increases the
mischief. While every officer would willingly follow up an
accusation against any one or more of his men whose names or
description were given immediately after the discovery of the act,
he would naturally resent any general charge against his good men,
for the criminal conduct of a few bad ones.

I have examined into many of the cases of complaint made in this
general way, and have felt mortified that our soldiers should do
acts which are nothing more or less than stealing, but I was
powerless without some clew whereby to reach the rightful party. I
know that the great mass of our soldiers would scorn to steal or
commit crime, and I will not therefore entertain vague and general
complaints, but stand, prepared always to follow up any reasonable
complaint when the charge is definite and the names of witnesses

I know, moreover, in some instances when our soldiers are
complained of, that they have been insulted by sneering remarks
about "Yankees," "Northern barbarians," "Lincoln's hirelings,"
etc. People who use such language must seek redress through some
one else, for I will not tolerate insults to our country or cause.
When people forget their obligations to a Government that made them
respected among the nations of the earth, and speak contemptuously
of the flag which is the silent emblem of that country, I will not
go out of my way to protect them or their property. I will punish
the soldiers for trespass or waste if adjudged by a court-martial,
because they disobey orders; but soldiers are men and citizens as
well as soldiers, and should promptly resent any insult to their
country, come from what quarter it may. I mention this phase
because it is too common. Insult to a soldier does not justify
pillage, but it takes from the officer the disposition he would
otherwise feel to follow up the inquiry and punish the wrong-doers.

Again, armies in motion or stationary must commit some waste.
Flankers must let down fences and cross fields; and, when an attack
is contemplated or apprehended, a command will naturally clear the
ground of houses, fences, and trees. This is waste, but is the
natural consequence of war, chargeable on those who caused the war.
So in fortifying a place, dwelling-houses must be taken, materials
used, even wasted, and great damage done, which in the end may
prove useless. This, too, is an expense not chargeable to us, but
to those who made the war; and generally war is destruction and
nothing else.

We must bear this in mind, that however peaceful things look, we
are really at war; and much that looks like waste or destruction is
only the removal of objects that obstruct our fire, or would afford
cover to an enemy.

This class of waste must be distinguished from the wanton waste
committed by army-stragglers, which is wrong, and can be punished
by the death-penalty if proper testimony can be produced.

Yours, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Satisfied that, in the progress of the war, Memphis would become an
important depot, I pushed forward the construction of Fort
Pickering, kept most of the troops in camps back of the city, and
my own headquarters remained in tents on the edge of the city, near
Mr. Moon's house, until, on the approach of winter, Mrs. Sherman
came down with the children to visit me, when I took a house nearer
the fort.

All this time battalion and brigade drills were enforced, so that,
when the season approached for active operations farther south, I
had my division in the best possible order, and about the 1st of
November it was composed as follows:

First Brigade, Brigadier-General M. L. SMITH--Eighth Missouri,
Colonel G. A. Smith; Sixth Missouri, Colonel Peter E. Bland; One
Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois, Colonel George B. Hoge;
Fifty-fourth Ohio, Colonel T. Kilby Smith; One Hundred and
Twentieth Illinois, Colonel G. W. McKeaig.

Second Brigade, Colonel JOHN ADAIR McDOWELL.--Sixth Iowa,
Lieutenant-Colonel John M. Corse; Fortieth Illinois, Colonel J. W.
Booth; Forty-sixth Ohio, Colonel O. C. Walcutt; Thirteenth United
States Infantry, First Battalion, Major D. Chase.

Third Brigade, Brigadier-General J. W. DENVER.--Forty-eighth Ohio,
Colonel P. J. Sullivan; Fifty-third Ohio, Colonel W. S. Jones;
Seventieth Ohio, Colonel J. R. Cockerill.

Fourth Brigade, Colonel DAVID STUART.--Fifty-fifth Illinois,
Colonel O. Malmburg; Fifty-seventh Ohio, Colonel W. Mungen;
Eighty-third Indiana, Colonel B. Spooner; One Hundred and Sixteenth
Illinois, Colonel Tupper; One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois,
Lieutenant-Colonel Eldridge.

Fifth Brigade, Colonel R. P. BUCKLAND.--Seventy-second Ohio,
Lieutenant-Colonel D. W. C. Loudon; Thirty-second Wisconsin,
Colonel J. W. Howe; Ninety-third Indiana, Colonel Thomas;
Ninety-third Illinois, Major J. M. Fisher.

Subsequently, Brigadier-General J. G. Lauman arrived at Memphis,
and I made up a sixth brigade, and organized these six brigades
into three divisions, under Brigadier-Generals M. L. Smith, J. W.
Denver, and J. G. Lauman.

About the 17th of November I received an order from General Grant,

LAGRANGE, November 16, 1862.

Meet me at Columbus, Kentucky, on Thursday next. If you have a
good map of the country south of you, take it up with you.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I started forthwith by boat, and met General Grant, who had reached
Columbus by the railroad from Jackson, Tennessee. He explained to
me that he proposed to move against Pemberton, then intrenched on a
line behind the Tallahatchie River below Holly Springs; that he
would move on Holly Springs and Abberville, from Grand Junction;
that McPherson, with the troops at Corinth, would aim to make
junction with him at Holly Springs; and that he wanted me to leave
in Memphis a proper garrison, and to aim for the Tallahatchie, so
as to come up on his right by a certain date. He further said that
his ultimate object was to capture Vicksburg, to open the
navigation of the Mississippi River, and that General Halleck had
authorized him to call on the troops in the Department of Arkansas,
then commanded by General S. R. Curtis, for cooperation. I
suggested to him that if he would request General Curtis to send an
expedition from some point on the Mississippi, near Helena, then
held in force, toward Grenada, to the rear of Pemberton, it would
alarm him for the safety of his communications, and would assist us
materially in the proposed attack on his front. He authorized me
to send to the commanding officer at Helena a request to that
effect, and, as soon as I reached Memphis, I dispatched my aide,
Major McCoy, to Helena, who returned, bringing me a letter from
General Frederick Steele, who had just reached Helena with
Osterhaus's division, and who was temporarily in command, General
Curtis having gone to St. Louis. This letter contained the
assurance that he "would send from Friar's Point a large force
under Brigadier-General A. P. Hovey in the direction of Grenada,
aiming to reach the Tallahatchie at Charleston, on the next Monday,
Tuesday, or Wednesday (December 1st) at furthest." My command was
appointed to start on Wednesday, November 24th, and meantime
Major-General S. A. Hurlbut, having reported for duty, was assigned
to the command of Memphis, with four regiments of infantry one
battery of artillery, two companies of Thielman's cavalry and the
certain prospect of soon receiving a number of new regiments, known
to be en route.

I marched out of Memphis punctually with three small divisions,
taking different roads till we approached the Tallahatchie, when we
converged on Wyatt to cross the river, there a bold, deep stream,
with a newly-constructed fort behind. I had Grierson's Sixth
Illinois Cavalry with me, and with it opened communication with
General Grant when we were abreast of Holly Springs. We reached
Wyatt on the 2d day of December without the least opposition, and
there learned that Pemberton's whole army had fallen back to the
Yalabusha near Grenada, in a great measure by reason of the
exaggerated reports concerning the Helena force, which had reached
Charleston; and some of General Hovey's cavalry, under General
Washburn, having struck the railroad in the neighborhood of
Coffeeville, naturally alarmed General Pemberton for the safety of
his communications, and made him let go his Tallahatchie line with
all the forts which he had built at great cost in labor. We had to
build a bridge at Wyatt, which consumed a couple of days, and on
the 5th of December my whole command was at College Hill, ten miles
from Oxford, whence I reported to General Grant in Oxford.

On the 8th I received the following letter:

OXFORD MISSISSIPPI, December 8, 1862--Morning

General SHERMAN, College Hill.

DEAR GENERAL: The following is a copy of dispatch just received
from Washington:

WASHINGTON, December 7, 1862--12M

General GRANT:

The capture of Grenada may change our plans in regard to Vicksburg.
You will move your troops as you may deem best to accomplish the
great object in view. You will retain, till further orders, all
troops of General Curtis now in your department. Telegraph to
General Allen in St. Louis for all steamboats you may require. Ask
Porter to cooperate. Telegraph what are your present plans.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in.-Chief.

I wish you would come over this evening and stay to-night, or come
in the morning. I would like to talk with you about this matter.
My notion is to send two divisions back to Memphis, and fix upon a
day when they should effect a landing, and press from here with
this command at the proper time to cooperate. If I do not do this
I will move our present force to Grenada, including Steele's,
repairing road as we proceed, and establish a depot of provisions
there. When a good ready is had, to move immediately on Jackson,
Mississippi, cutting loose from the road. Of the two plans I look
most favorably on the former.

Come over and we will talk this matter over.
Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I repaired at once to Oxford, and found General Grant in a large
house with all his staff, and we discussed every possible chance.
He explained to me that large reenforcements had been promised,
which would reach Memphis very soon, if not already there; that the
entire gunboat fleet, then under the command of Admiral D. D.
Porter, would cooperate; that we could count on a full division
from the troops at Helena; and he believed that, by a prompt
movement, I could make a lodgment up the Yazoo and capture
Vicksburg from the rear; that its garrison was small, and he, at
Oxford, would so handle his troops as to hold Pemberton away from
Vicksburg. I also understood that, if Pemberton should retreat
south, he would follow him up, and would expect to find me at the
Yazoo River, if not inside of Vicksburg. I confess, at that moment
I did not dream that General McClernand, or anybody else, was
scheming for the mere honor of capturing Vicksburg. We knew at the
time that General Butler had been reenforced by General Banks at
New Orleans, and the latter was supposed to be working his way
up-stream from New Orleans, while we were working down. That day
General Grant dispatched to General Halleck, in Washington, as

OXFORD, December 8, 1862.

Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

General Sherman will command the expedition down the Mississippi.
He will have a force of about forty thousand men; will land above
Vicksburg (up the Yazoo, if practicable), and out the Mississippi
Central road and the road running east from Vicksburg, where they
cross Black River. I will cooperate from here, my movements
depending on those of the enemy. With the large cavalry force now
at my command, I will be able to have them show themselves at
different points on the Tallahatchie and Yalabusha; and, when an
opportunity occurs, make a real attack. After cutting the two
roads, General Sherman's movements to secure the end desired will
necessarily be left to his judgment.

I will occupy this road to Coffeeville.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I was shown this dispatch before it was sent, and afterward the
general drew up for me the following letter of instructions in his
own handwriting, which I now possess:

OXFORD, Mississippi, December 8, 1862.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Right Wing Army In the
Field, present.

GENERAL: You will proceed with as little delay as practicable 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 way.

As soon as possible move with them down the river to the vicinity
of Vicksburg, and, with the cooperation of the gunboat fleet under
command of Flag-Officer Porter, proceed to the reduction of that
place in such manner as circumstances and your own judgment may

The amount of rations, forage, land transportation, etc., necessary
to take, will be left entirely to yourself.

The quartermaster in St. Louis will be instructed to send you
transportation for thirty thousand 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

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

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 cooperate 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 what ever cavalry force may be there.

One regiment of infantry and at least a section of artillery will
also be left at Friar's Point or Delta, to protect the stores of
the cavalry post that will be left there. Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I also insert here another letter, dated the 14th instant, sent
afterward to me at Memphis, which completes all instructions
received by me governing the first movement against Vicksburg:

OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI, December 14, 1862

Major-General SHERMAN, commanding, etc.,
Memphis, Tennessee.

I have not had one word from Grierson since he left, and am getting
uneasy about him. I hope General Gorman will give you no
difficulty about retaining the troops on this side the river, and
Steele to command them. The twenty-one thousand men you have, with
the twelve thousand from Helena, will make a good force. The enemy
are as yet on the Yalabusha. I am pushing down on them slowly, but
so as to keep up the impression of a continuous move. I feel
particularly anxious to have the Helena cavalry on this side of the
river; if not now, at least after you start. If Gorman will send
them, instruct them where to go and how to communicate with me. My
headquarters will probably be in Coffeeville one week hence.... In
the mean time I will order transportation, etc.... It would be well
if you could have two or three small boats suitable for navigating
the Yazoo. It may become necessary for me to look to that base for
supplies before we get through....

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

When we rode to Oxford from College Hill, there happened a little
circumstance which seems worthy of record. While General Van Dorn
had his headquarters in Holly Springs, viz., in October, 1862, he
was very short of the comforts and luxuries of life, and resorted
to every possible device to draw from the abundant supplies in
Memphis. He had no difficulty whatever in getting spies into the
town for information, but he had trouble in getting bulky supplies
out through our guards, though sometimes I connived at his supplies
of cigars, liquors, boots, gloves, etc., for his individual use;
but medicines and large supplies of all kinds were confiscated, if
attempted to be passed out. As we rode that morning toward Oxford,
I observed in a farmer's barn-yard a wagon that looked like a city
furniture-wagon with springs. We were always short of wagons, so I
called the attention of the quartermaster, Colonel J. Condit Smith,
saying, "There is a good wagon; go for it." He dropped out of the
retinue with an orderly, and after we had ridden a mile or so he
overtook us, and I asked him, "What luck?" He answered, "All
right; I have secured that wagon, and I also got another," and
explained that he had gone to the farmer's house to inquire about
the furniture-wagon, when the farmer said it did not belong to him,
but to some party in Memphis, adding that in his barn was another
belonging to the same party. They went to the barn, and there
found a handsome city hearse, with pall and plumes. The farmer
said they had had a big funeral out of Memphis, but when it reached
his house, the coffin was found to contain a fine assortment of
medicines for the use of Van Dorn's army. Thus under the pretense
of a first-class funeral, they had carried through our guards the
very things we had tried to prevent. It was a good trick, but
diminished our respect for such pageants afterward.

As soon as I was in possession of General Grant's instructions of
December 8th, with a further request that I should dispatch Colonel
Grierson, with his cavalry, across by land to Helena, to notify
General Steele of the general plan, I returned to College Hill,
selected the division of Brigadier-General Morgan L. Smith to
return with me to Memphis; started Grierson on his errand to
Helena, and ordered Generals Denver and Lauman to report to General
Grant for further orders. We started back by the most direct
route, reached Memphis by noon of December 12th, and began
immediately the preparations for the Vicksburg movement. There I
found two irregular divisions which had arrived at Memphis in my
absence, commanded respectively by Brigadier-General A. J. Smith
and Brigadier-General George W. Morgan. These were designated the
First and Third Divisions, leaving the Second Division of Morgan Z.
Smith to retain its original name and number.

I also sent orders, in the name of General Grant, to General
Gorman, who meantime had replaced General Steele in command of
Helena, in lieu of the troops which had been east of the
Mississippi and had returned, to make up a strong division to
report to me on my way down. This division was accordingly
organized, and was commanded by Brigadier-General Frederick Steele,
constituting my Fourth Division.

Meantime a large fleet of steamboats was assembling from St. Louis
and Cairo, and Admiral Porter dropped down to Memphis with his
whole gunboat fleet, ready to cooperate in the movement. The
preparations were necessarily hasty in the extreme, but this was
the essence of the whole plan, viz., to reach Vicksburg as it were
by surprise, while General Grant held in check Pemberton's army
about Grenada, leaving me to contend only with the smaller garrison
of Vicksburg and its well-known strong batteries and defenses. On
the 19th the Memphis troops were embarked, and steamed down to
Helena, where on the 21st General Steele's division was also
embarked; and on the 22d we were all rendezvoused at Friar's Point,
in the following order, viz.:

Steamer Forest Queen, general headquarters, and battalion
Thirteenth United States Infantry.

First Division, Brigadier-General A. J. SMITH.--Steamers Des Arc,
division headquarters and escort; Metropolitan, Sixth Indiana; J.
H. Dickey, Twenty-third Wisconsin; J. C. Snow, Sixteenth Indiana;
Hiawatha, Ninety-sixth Ohio; J. S. Pringle, Sixty-seventh Indiana;
J. W. Cheeseman, Ninth Kentucky; R. Campbell, Ninety-seventh
Indiana; Duke of Argyle, Seventy-seventh Illinois; City of Alton,
One Hundred and Eighth and Forty-eighth Ohio; City of Louisiana,
Mercantile Battery; Ohio Belle, Seventeenth Ohio Battery; Citizen,
Eighty-third Ohio; Champion, commissary-boat; General Anderson,

Second Division,, Brigadier-General M. L. SMITH.--Steamers
Chancellor, headquarters, and Thielman's cavalry; Planet, One
Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois; City of Memphis, Batteries A and B
(Missouri Artillery), Eighth Missouri, and section of Parrott guns;
Omaha, Fifty-seventh Ohio; Sioux City, Eighty-third Indiana; Spread
Eagle, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois; Ed. Walsh, One
Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois; Westmoreland, Fifty-fifth
Illinois, headquarters Fourth Brigade; Sunny South, Fifty-fourth
Ohio; Universe, Sixth Missouri; Robert Allen, commissary-boat.

Third Division, Brigadier-General G. W. MORGAN.--Steamers Empress,
division headquarters; Key West, One Hundred and Eighteenth
Illinois; Sam Gaty, Sixty-ninth Indiana; Northerner, One Hundred
and Twentieth Ohio; Belle Peoria, headquarters Second Brigade, two
companies Forty-ninth Ohio, and pontoons; Die Vernon, Third
Kentucky; War Eagle, Forty-ninth Indiana (eight companies), and
Foster's battery; Henry von Phul, headquarters Third Brigade, and
eight companies Sixteenth Ohio; Fanny Bullitt, One Hundred and
Fourteenth Ohio, and Lamphere's battery; Crescent City,
Twenty-second Kentucky and Fifty-fourth Indiana; Des Moines,
Forty-second Ohio; Pembina, Lamphere's and Stone's batteries; Lady
Jackson, commissary-boat.

Fourth Division, Brigadier-General FREDERICK STEELE--Steamers
Continental, headquarters, escort and battery; John J. Roe, Fourth
and Ninth Iowa; Nebraska, Thirty-first Iowa; Key West, First Iowa
Artillery; John Warner, Thirteenth Illinois; Tecumseh, Twenty-sixth
Iowa; Decatur, Twenty-eighth Iowa; Quitman, Thirty-fourth Iowa;
Kennett, Twenty ninth Missouri; Gladiator, Thirtieth Missouri;
Isabella, Thirty-first Missouri; D. G. Taylor, quartermaster's
stores and horses; Sucker State, Thirty-second Missouri; Dakota,
Third Missouri; Tutt, Twelfth Missouri Emma, Seventeenth Missouri;
Adriatic, First Missouri; Meteor, Seventy-sixth Ohio; Polar Star,
Fifty-eighth Ohio.

At the same time were communicated the following instructions:

FOREST QUEEN, December 23, 1882.

To Commanders of Divisions, Generals F. STEELE, GEORGE W. MORGAN,

With this I hand to each of you a copy of a map, compiled from the
best sources, and which in the main is correct. It is the same
used by Admiral Porter and myself. Complete military success can
only be accomplished by united action on some general plan,
embracing usually a large district of country. In the present
instance, our object is to secure the navigation of the Mississippi
River and its main branches, and to hold them as military channels
of communication and for commercial purposes. The river, above
Vicksburg, has been gained by conquering the country to its rear,
rendering its possession by our enemy useless and unsafe to him,
and of great value to us. But the enemy still holds the river from
Vicksburg to Baton Rouge, navigating it with his boats, and the
possession of it enables him to connect his communications and
routes of supply, east and west. To deprive him of this will be a
severe blow, and, if done effectually, will be of great advantage
to us, and probably, the most decisive act of the war. To
accomplish this important result we are to act our part--an
important one of the great whole. General Banks, with a large
force, has reinforced General Butler in Louisiana, and from that
quarter an expedition, by water and land, is coming northward.
General Grant, with the Thirteenth Army Corps, of which we compose
the right wing, is moving southward. The naval squadron (Admiral
Porter) is operating with his gunboat fleet by water, each in
perfect harmony with the other.

General Grant's left and centre were at last accounts approaching
the Yalabusha, near Grenada, and the railroad to his rear, by which
he drew his supplies, was reported to be seriously damaged. This
may disconcert him somewhat, but only makes more important our line
of operations. At the Yalabusha General Grant may encounter the
army of General Pemberton, the same which refused him battle on the
line of the Tallahatchie, which was strongly fortified; but, as he
will not have time to fortify it, he will hardly stand there; and,
in that event, General Grant will immediately advance down the high
ridge between the Big Black and Yazoo, and will expect to meet us
on the Yazoo and receive from us the supplies which he needs, and
which he knows we carry along. Parts of this general plan are to
cooperate with the naval squadron in the reduction of Vicksburg; to
secure possession of the land lying between the Yazoo and Big
Black; and to act in concert with General Grant against Pemberton's
forces, supposed to have Jackson, Mississippi, as a point of
concentration. Vicksburg is doubtless very strongly fortified,
both against the river and land approaches. Already the gunboats
have secured the Yazoo up for twenty-three miles, to a fort on the
Yazoo at Haines's Bluff, giving us a choice for a landing-place at
some point up the Yazoo below this fort, or on the island which
lies between Vicksburg and the present mouth of the Yazoo. (See
map [b, c, d], Johnson's plantation.)

But, before any actual collision with the enemy, I purpose,
after our whole land force is rendezvoused at Gaines's Landing,
Arkansas, to proceed in order to Milliken's Bend (a), and there
dispatch a brigade, without wagons or any incumbrances whatever, to
the Vicksburg & Shreveport Railroad (at h and k), to destroy that
effectually, and to cut off that fruitful avenue of supply; then to
proceed to the mouth of the Yazoo, and, after possessing ourselves
of the latest and most authentic information from naval officers
now there, to land our whole force on the Mississippi side, and
then to reach the point where the Vicksburg & Jackson Railroad
crosses the Big Black (f); after which to attack Vicksburg by land,
while the gun-boats assail it by water. It may be necessary
(looking to Grant's approach), before attacking Vicksburg, to
reduce the battery at Haine's Bluff first, so as to enable some of
the lighter gunboats and transports to ascend the Yazoo and
communicate with General Grant. The detailed manner of
accomplishing all these results will be communicated in due season,
and these general points are only made known at this time, that
commanders may study the maps, and also that in the event of
non-receipt of orders all may act in perfect concert by following
the general movement, unless specially detached.

You all now have the same map, so that no mistakes or confusion
need result from different names of localities. All possible
preparations as to wagons, provisions, axes, and intrenching-tools,
should be made in advance, so that when we do land there will be no
want of them. When we begin to act on shore, we must do the work
quickly and effectually. The gunboats under Admiral Porter will do
their full share, and I feel every assurance that the army will not
fall short in its work.

Division commanders may read this to regimental commanders, and
furnish brigade commanders a copy. They should also cause as many
copies of the map to be made on the same scale as possible, being
very careful in copying the names.

The points marked e and g (Allan's and Mount Albans) are evidently
strategical points that will figure in our future operations, and
these positions should be well studied.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

The Mississippi boats were admirably calculated for handling
troops, horses, guns, stores, etc., easy of embarkation and
disembarkation, and supplies of all kinds were abundant, except
fuel. For this we had to rely on wood, but most of the wood-yards,
so common on the river before the war, had been exhausted, so that
we had to use fence-rails, old dead timber, the logs of houses,
etc. Having abundance of men and plenty of axes, each boat could
daily procure a supply.

In proceeding down the river, one or more of Admiral Porter's
gunboats took the lead; others were distributed throughout the
column, and some brought up the rear. We manoeuvred by divisions
and brigades when in motion, and it was a magnificent sight as we
thus steamed down the river. What few inhabitants remained at the
plantations on the river-bank were unfriendly, except the slaves;
some few guerrilla-parties infested the banks, but did not dare to
molest so, strong a force as I then commanded.

We reached Milliken's Bend on Christmas-day, when I detached one
brigade (Burbridge's), of A. J. Smith's division, to the southwest,
to break up the railroad leading from Vicksburg toward Shreveport,
Louisiana. Leaving A. J. Smith's division there to await the
return of Burbridge, the remaining three divisions proceeded, on
the 26th, to the mouth of the Yazoo, and up that river to
Johnson's plantation, thirteen miles, and there disembarked
Steele's division above the mouth of Chickasaw Bayou, Morgans
division near the house of Johnson (which had been burned by the
gunboats on a former occasion), and M. L. Smith's just below. A.
J. Smith's division arrived the next night, and disembarked below
that of M. L. Smith. The place of our disembarkation was in fact
an island, separated from the high bluff known as Walnut Hills, on
which the town of Vicksburg stands, by a broad and shallow
bayou-evidently an old channel of the Yazoo. On our right was
another wide bayou, known as Old River; and on the left still
another, much narrower, but too deep to be forded, known as
Chickasaw Bayou. All the island was densely wooded, except
Johnson's plantation, immediately on the bank of the Yazoo, and a
series of old cotton-fields along Chickasaw Bayou. There was a
road from Johnson's plantation directly to Vicksburg, but it
crossed numerous bayous and deep swamps by bridges, which had been
destroyed; and this road debouched on level ground at the foot of
the Vicksburg bluff, opposite strong forts, well prepared and
defended by heavy artillery. On this road I directed General A. J.
Smith's division, not so much by way of a direct attack as a
diversion and threat.

Morgan was to move to his left, to reach Chickasaw Bayou, and to
follow it toward the bluff, about four miles above A. J. Smith.
Steele was on Morgan's left, across Chickasaw Bayou, and M. L.
Smith on Morgan's right. We met light resistance at all points,
but skirmished, on the 27th, up to the main bayou, that separated
our position from the bluffs of Vicksburg, which were found to be
strong by nature and by art, and seemingly well defended. On
reconnoitring the front in person, during the 27th and 28th, I
became satisfied that General A. J. Smith could not cross the
intervening obstacles under the heavy fire of the forts immediately
in his front, and that the main bayou was impassable, except at two
points--one near the head of Chickasaw Bayou, in front of Morgan,
and the other about a mile lower down, in front of M. L. Smith's

During the general reconnoissance of the 28th General Morgan L.
Smith received a severe and dangerous wound in his hip, which
completely disabled him and compelled him to go to his steamboat,
leaving the command of his division to Brigadier General D.
Stuart; but I drew a part of General A. J. Smith's division, and
that general himself, to the point selected for passing the bayou,
and committed that special task to his management.

General Steele reported that it was physically impossible to reach
the bluffs from his position, so I ordered him to leave but a show
of force there, and to return to the west side of Chickasaw Bayou
in support of General Morgan's left. He had to countermarch and
use the steamboats in the Yazoo to get on the firm ground on our
side of the Chickasaw.

On the morning of December 29th all the troops were ready and in
position. The first step was to make a lodgment on the foot-hills
and bluffs abreast of our position, while diversions were made by
the navy toward Haines's Bluff, and by the first division directly
toward Vicksburg. I estimated the enemy's forces, then strung from
Vicksburg to Haines's Bluff, at fifteen thousand men, commanded by
the rebel Generals Martin Luther Smith and Stephen D. Lee. Aiming
to reach firm ground beyond this bayou, and to leave as little time
for our enemy to reenforce as possible, I determined to make a show
of attack along the whole front, but to break across the bayou at
the two points named, and gave general orders accordingly. I
pointed out to General Morgan the place where he could pass the
bayou, and he answered, "General, in ten minutes after you give the
signal I'll be on those hills." He was to lead his division in
person, and was to be supported by Steele's division. The front
was very narrow, and immediately opposite, at the base of the hills
about three hundred yards from the bayou, was a rebel battery,
supported by an infantry force posted on the spurs of the hill
behind. To draw attention from this, the real point of attack, I
gave instructions to commence the attack at the flanks.

I went in person about a mile to the right rear of Morgan's
position, at a place convenient to receive reports from all other
parts of the line; and about noon of December 29th gave the orders
and signal for the main attack. A heavy artillery-fire opened
along our whole line, and was replied to by the rebel batteries,
and soon the infantry-fire opened heavily, especially on A. J.
Smith's front, and in front of General George W. Morgan. One
brigade (DeCourcey's) of Morgan's troops crossed the bayou safely,
but took to cover behind the bank, and could not be moved forward.
Frank Blairs brigade, of Steele's division, in support, also
crossed the bayou, passed over the space of level ground to the
foot of the hills; but, being unsupported by Morgan, and meeting a
very severe cross-fire of artillery, was staggered and gradually
fell back, leaving about five hundred men behind, wounded and
prisoners; among them Colonel Thomas Fletcher, afterward Governor
of Missouri. Part of Thayer's brigade took a wrong direction, and
did not cross the bayou at all; nor did General Morgan cross in
person. This attack failed; and I have always felt that it was due
to the failure of General G. W. Morgan to obey his orders, or to
fulfill his promise made in person. Had he used with skill and
boldness one of his brigades, in addition to that of Blair's, he
could have made a lodgment on the bluff, which would have opened
the door for our whole force to follow. Meantime the Sixth
Missouri Infantry, at heavy loss, had also crossed the bayou at the
narrow passage lower down, but could not ascend the steep bank;
right over their heads was a rebel battery, whose fire was in a
measure kept down by our sharp-shooters (Thirteenth United States
Infantry) posted behind logs, stumps, and trees, on our side of the

The men of the Sixth Missouri actually scooped out with their hands
caves in the bank, which sheltered them against the fire of the
enemy, who, right over their heads, held their muskets outside the
parapet vertically, and fired down So critical was the position,
that we could not recall the men till after dark, and then one at a
time. Our loss had been pretty heavy, and we had accomplished
nothing, and had inflicted little loss on our enemy. At first I
intended to renew the assault, but soon became satisfied that, the
enemy's attention having been drawn to the only two practicable
points, it would prove too costly, and accordingly resolved to look
elsewhere for a point below Haines's Bluff, or Blake's plantation.
That night I conferred with Admiral Porter, who undertook to cover
the landing; and the next day (December 30th) the boats were all
selected, but so alarmed were the captains and pilots, that we had
to place sentinels with loaded muskets to insure their remaining at
their posts. Under cover of night, Steele's division, and one
brigade of Stuart's, were drawn out of line, and quietly embarked
on steamboats in the Yazoo River. The night of December 30th was
appointed for this force, under the command of General Fred Steele,
to proceed up the Yazoo just below Haines's Bluff, there to
disembark about daylight, and make a dash for the hills. Meantime
we had strengthened our positions near Chickasaw Bayou, had all our
guns in good position with parapets, and had every thing ready to
renew our attack as soon as we heard the sound of battle above.

At midnight I left Admiral Porter on his gunboat; he had his fleet
ready and the night was propitious. I rode back to camp and gave
orders for all to be ready by daybreak; but when daylight came I
received a note from General Steele reporting that, before his
boats had got up steam, the fog had settled down on the river so
thick and impenetrable, that it was simply impossible to move; so
the attempt had to be abandoned. The rain, too, began to fall, and
the trees bore water-marks ten feet above our heads, so that I
became convinced that the part of wisdom was to withdraw. I
ordered the stores which had been landed to be reembarked on the
boats, and preparations made for all the troops to regain their
proper boats during the night of the 1st of January, 1863. From
our camps at Chickasaw we could hear, the whistles of the trains
arriving in Vicksburg, could see battalions of men marching up
toward Haines's Bluff, and taking post at all points in our front.
I was more than convinced that heavy reenforcements were coming to
Vicksburg; whether from Pemberton at Grenada, Bragg in Tennessee,
or from other sources, I could not tell; but at no point did the
enemy assume the offensive; and when we drew off our rear-guard, on
the morning of the 2d, they simply followed up the movement,
timidly. Up to that moment I had not heard a word from General
Grant since leaving Memphis; and most assuredly I had listened for
days for the sound of his guns in the direction of Yazoo City. On
the morning of January 2d, all my command were again afloat in
their proper steamboats, when Admiral Porter told me that General
McClernand had arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo in the steamboat
Tigress, and that it was rumored he had come down to supersede me.
Leaving my whole force where it was, I ran down to the month of the
Yazoo in a small tug boat, and there found General McClernand, with
orders from the War Department to command the expeditionary force
on the Mississippi River. I explained what had been done, and what
was the actual state of facts; that the heavy reenforcements
pouring into Vicksburg must be Pemberton's army, and that General
Grant must be near at hand. He informed me that General Grant was
not coming at all; that his depot at Holly Springs had been
captured by Van Dorn, and that he had drawn back from Coffeeville
and Oxford to Holly Springs and Lagrange; and, further, that
Quinby's division of Grant's army was actually at Memphis for
stores when he passed down. This, then, fully explained how
Vicksburg was being reenforced. I saw that any attempt on the
place from the Yazoo was hopeless; and, with General McClernand's
full approval, we all came out of the Yazoo, and on the 3d of
January rendezvoused at Milliken's Bend, about ten miles above.
On the 4th General McClernand issued his General Order No. 1,
assuming command of the Army of the Mississippi, divided into two
corps; the first to be commanded by General Morgan, composed of his
own and A. J. Smith's divisions; and the second, composed of
Steele's and Stuart's divisions, to be commanded by me. Up to that
time the army had been styled the right wing of (General Grant's)
Thirteenth Army Corps, and numbered about thirty thousand men. The
aggregate loss during the time of any command, mostly on the 29th
of December, was one hundred and seventy-five killed, nine hundred
and thirty wounded, and seven hundred and forty-three prisoners.
According to Badeau, the rebels lost sixty-three killed, one
hundred and thirty-four wounded, and ten prisoners. It afterward
transpired that Van Dorn had captured Holly Springs on the 20th of
December, and that General Grant fell back very soon after.
General Pemberton, who had telegraphic and railroad communication
with Vicksburg, was therefore at perfect liberty to reenforce the
place with a garrison equal, if not superior, to my command. The
rebels held high, commanding ground, and could see every movement
of our men and boats, so that the only possible hope of success
consisted in celerity and surprise, and in General Grant's holding
all of Pemberton's army hard pressed meantime. General Grant was
perfectly aware of this, and had sent me word of the change, but it
did not reach me in time; indeed, I was not aware of it until after
my assault of December 29th, and until the news was brought me by
General McClernand as related. General McClernand was appointed to
this command by President Lincoln in person, who had no knowledge
of what was then going on down the river. Still, my relief, on the
heels of a failure, raised the usual cry, at the North, of
"repulse, failure, and bungling." There was no bungling on my
part, for I never worked harder or with more intensity of purpose
in my life; and General Grant, long after, in his report of the
operations of the siege of Vicksburg, gave us all full credit for
the skill of the movement, and described the almost impregnable
nature of the ground; and, although in all official reports I
assumed the whole responsibility, I have ever felt that had General
Morgan promptly and skillfully sustained the lead of Frank Blair's
brigade on that day, we should have broken the rebel line, and
effected a lodgment on the hills behind Vicksburg. General Frank
Blair was outspoken and indignant against Generals Morgan and De
Courcey at the time, and always abused me for assuming the whole
blame. But, had we succeeded, we might have found ourselves in a
worse trap, when General Pemberton was at full liberty to turn his
whole force against us. While I was engaged at Chickasaw Bayou,
Admiral Porter was equally busy in the Yazoo River, threatening the
enemy's batteries at Haines's and Snyder's Bluffs above. In a
sharp engagement he lost one of his best officers, in the person of
Captain Gwin, United States Navy, who, though on board an ironclad,
insisted on keeping his post on deck, where he was struck in the
breast by a round shot, which carried away the muscle, and
contused the lung within, from which he died a few days after. We
of the army deplored his loss quite as much as his fellows of the
navy, for he had been intimately associated with us in our previous
operations on the Tennessee River, at Shiloh and above, and we had
come to regard him as one of us.

On the 4th of January, 1863, our fleet of transports was collected
at Milliken's Bend, about ten miles above the mouth of the Yazoo,
Admiral Porter remaining with his gunboats at the Yazoo. General
John A. McClernand was in chief command, General George W. Morgan
commanded the First Corps and I the Second Corps of the Army of the

I had learned that a small steamboat, the Blue Wing, with a mail,
towing coal-barges and loaded with ammunition, had left Memphis for
the Yazoo, about the 20th of December, had been captured by a rebel
boat which had come out of the Arkansas River, and had been carried
up that river to Fort Hind.

We had reports from this fort, usually called the "Post of
Arkansas," about forty miles above the mouth, that it was held by
about five thousand rebels, was an inclosed work, commanding the
passage of the river, but supposed to be easy of capture from the
rear. At that time I don't think General McClernand had any
definite views or plays of action. If so, he did not impart them
to me. He spoke, in general terms of opening the navigation of the
Mississippi, "cutting his way to the sea," etc., etc., but the
modus operandi was not so clear. Knowing full well that we could
not carry on operations against Vicksburg as long as the rebels
held the Post of Arkansas, whence to attack our boats coming and
going without convoy, I visited him on his boat, the Tigress, took
with me a boy who had been on the Blue Wing, and had escaped, and
asked leave to go up the Arkansas, to clear out the Post. He made
various objections, but consented to go with me to see Admiral
Porter about it. We got up steam in the Forest Queen, during the
night of January 4th, stopped at the Tigress, took General
McClernand on board, and proceeded down the river by night to the
admiral's boat, the Black Hawk, lying in the mouth of the Yazoo.
It must have been near midnight, and Admiral Porter was in
deshabille. We were seated in his cabin and I explained my views
about Arkansas Post, and asked his cooperation. He said that he
was short of coal, and could not use wood in his iron-clad boats.
Of these I asked for two, to be commanded by Captain Shirk or
Phelps, or some officer of my acquaintance. At that moment, poor
Gwin lay on his bed, in a state-room close by, dying from the
effect of the cannon shot received at Haines's Bluff, as before
described. Porter's manner to McClernand was so curt that I
invited him out into a forward-cabin where he had his charts, and
asked him what he meant by it. He said that "he did not like him;"
that in Washington, before coming West, he had been introduced to
him by President Lincoln, and he had taken a strong prejudice
against him. I begged him, for the sake of harmony, to waive that,
which he promised to do. Returning to the cabin, the conversation
was resumed, and, on our offering to tow his gunboats up the river
to save coal, and on renewing the request for Shirk to command the
detachment, Porter said, "Suppose I go along myself?" I answered,
if he would do so, it would insure the success of the enterprise.
At that time I supposed General McClernand would send me on this
business, but he concluded to go himself, and to take his whole
force. Orders were at once issued for the troops not to disembark
at Milliken's Bend, but to remain as they were on board the
transports. My two divisions were commanded--the First, by
Brigadier-General Frederick Steele, with three brigades, commanded
by Brigadier-Generals F. P. Blair, C. E. Hooey, and J. M. Thayer;
the Second, by Brigadier-General D. Stuart, with two brigades,
commanded by Colonels G. A. Smith and T. Kilby Smith.

The whole army, embarked on steamboats convoyed by the gunboats, of
which three were iron-clads, proceeded up the Mississippi River to
the mouth of White River, which we reached January 8th. On the
next day we continued up White River to the "Cut-off;" through this
to the Arkansas, and up the Arkansas to Notrib's farm, just below
Fort Hindman. Early the next morning we disembarked. Stuart's
division, moving up the river along the bank, soon encountered a
force of the enemy intrenched behind a line of earthworks,
extending from the river across to the swamp. I took Steele's
division, marching by the flank by a road through the swamp to the
firm ground behind, and was moving up to get to the rear of Fort
Hindman, when General McClernand overtook me, with the report that
the rebels had abandoned their first position, and had fallen back
into the fort. By his orders, we counter-marched, recrossed the
swamp, and hurried forward to overtake Stuart, marching for Fort
Hindman. The first line of the rebels was about four miles below
Fort Hindman, and the intervening space was densely, wooded and
obscure, with the exception of some old fields back of and close to
the fort. During the night, which was a bright moonlight one, we
reconnoitred close up, and found a large number of huts which had
been abandoned, and the whole rebel force had fallen back into and
about the fort. Personally I crept up to a stump so close that I
could hear the enemy hard at work, pulling down houses, cutting
with axes, and building intrenchments. I could almost hear their
words, and I was thus listening when, about 4 A. M. the bugler in
the rebel camp sounded as pretty a reveille as I ever listened to.

When daylight broke it revealed to us a new line of parapet
straight across the peninsula, connecting Fort Hindman, on the
Arkansas River bank, with the impassable swamp about a mile to its
left or rear. This peninsula was divided into two nearly equal
parts by a road. My command had the ground to the right of the
road, and Morgan's corps that to the left. McClernand had his
quarters still on the Tigress, back at Notrib's farm, but moved
forward that morning (January 11th) to a place in the woods to our
rear, where he had a man up a tree, to observe and report the

There was a general understanding with Admiral Porter that he was
to attack the fort with his three ironclad gunboats directly by its
water-front, while we assaulted by land in the rear. About 10 a.m.
I got a message from General McClernand, telling me where he could
be found, and asking me what we were waiting for. I answered that
we were then in close contact with the enemy, viz., about five or
six hundred yards off; that the next movement must be a direct
assault; that this should be simultaneous along the whole line; and
that I was waiting to hear from the gunboats; asking him to notify
Admiral Porter that we were all ready. In about half an hour I
heard the clear ring of the navy-guns; the fire gradually
increasing in rapidity and advancing toward the fort. I had
distributed our field-guns, and, when I judged the time had come, I
gave the orders to begin. The intervening ground between us and
the enemy was a dead level, with the exception of one or two small
gullies, and our men had no cover but the few standing trees and
some logs on the ground. The troops advanced well under a heavy
fire, once or twice falling to the ground for a sort of rest or
pause. Every tree had its group of men, and behind each log was a
crowd of sharp-shooters, who kept up so hot a fire that the rebel
troops fired wild. The fire of the fort proper was kept busy by
the gunboats and Morgan's corps, so that all my corps had to
encounter was the direct fire from the newly-built parapet across
the peninsula. This line had three sections of field-guns, that
kept things pretty lively, and several round-shot came so near me
that I realized that they were aimed at my staff; so I dismounted,
and made them scatter.

As the gunboats got closer up I saw their flags actually over the
parapet of Fort Hindman, and the rebel gunners scamper out of the
embrasures and run down into the ditch behind. About the same time
a man jumped up on the rebel parapet just where the road entered,
waving a large white flag, and numerous smaller white rags appeared
above the parapet along the whole line. I immediately ordered,
"Cease firing!" and sent the same word down the line to General
Steele, who had made similar progress on the right, following the
border of he swamp. I ordered my aide, Colonel Dayton, to jump on
his horse and ride straight up to the large white flag, and when
his horse was on the parapet I followed with the rest of my staff.
All firing had ceased, except an occasional shot away to the right,
and one of the captains (Smith) of the Thirteenth Regulars was
wounded after the display of the white flag. On entering the line,
I saw that our muskets and guns had done good execution; for there
was a horse-battery, and every horse lay dead in the traces. The
fresh-made parapet had been knocked down in many places, and dead
men lay around very thick. I inquired who commanded at that point,
and a Colonel Garland stepped up and said that he commanded that
brigade. I ordered him to form his brigade, stack arms, hang the
belts on the muskets, and stand waiting for orders. Stuart's
division had been halted outside the parapet. I then sent Major
Hammond down the rebel line to the right, with orders to stop
Steele's division outside, and to have the other rebel brigade
stack its arms in like manner, and to await further orders. I
inquired of Colonel Garland who commanded in chief, and he said
that General Churchill did, and that he was inside the fort. I
then rode into the fort, which was well built, with good parapets,
drawbridge, and ditch, and was an inclosed work of four bastions.
I found it full of soldiers and sailors, its parapets toward the
river well battered in, and Porter's gunboats in the river, close
against the fort, with their bows on shore. I soon found General
Churchill, in conversation with Admiral Porter and General A. J.
Smith, and about this time my adjutant-general, Major J. H.
Hammond, came and reported that General Deshler, who commanded the
rebel brigade facing and opposed to Steele, had refused to stack
arms and surrender, on the ground that he had received no orders
from his commanding general; that nothing separated this brigade
from Steele's men except the light parapet, and that there might be
trouble there at any moment. I advised General Churchill to send
orders at once, because a single shot might bring the whole of
Steele's division on Deshler's brigade, and I would not be
responsible for the consequences; soon afterward, we both concluded
to go in person. General Churchill had the horses of himself and
staff in the ditch; they were brought in, and we rode together to
where Garland was standing, and Churchill spoke to him in an angry
tone, "Why did you display the white flag!" Garland replied, "I
received orders to do so from one of your staff." Churchill denied
giving such an order, and angry words passed between them. I
stopped them, saying that it made little difference then, as they
were in our power. We continued to ride down the line to its
extreme point, where we found Deshler in person, and his troops
were still standing to the parapet with their muskets in hand.
Steele'e men were on the outside. I asked Deshler: "What does this
mean? You are a regular officer, and ought to know better." He
answered, snappishly, that "he had received no orders to
surrender;" when General Churchill said: "You see, sir, that we are
in their power, and you may surrender." Deshler turned to his
staff-officers and ordered them to repeat the command to "stack
arms," etc., to the colonels of his brigade. I was on my horse,
and he was on foot. Wishing to soften the blow of defeat, I spoke
to him kindly, saying that I knew a family of Deshlers in Columbus,
Ohio, and inquired if they were relations of his. He disclaimed
any relation with people living north of the Ohio, in an offensive
tone, and I think I gave him a piece of my mind that he did not
relish. He was a West Point graduate, small but very handsome, and
was afterward killed in battle. I never met him again.

Returning to the position where I had first entered the rebel line,
I received orders from General McClernand, by one of his staff, to
leave General A. J. Smith in charge of the fort and prisoners, and
with my troops to remain outside. The officer explained that the
general was then on the Tigress, which had moved up from below, to
a point in the river just above the fort; and not understanding his
orders, I concluded to go and see him in person. My troops were
then in possession of two of the three brigades which composed the
army opposed to us; and my troops were also in possession of all
the ground of the peninsula outside the "fort-proper" (Hindman). I
found General McClernand on the Tigress, in high spirits. He said
repeatedly: "Glorious! glorious! my star is ever in the ascendant!"
He spoke complimentarily of the troops, but was extremely jealous
of the navy. He said: "I'll make a splendid report;" "I had a man
up a tree;" etc. I was very hungry and tired, and fear I did not
appreciate the honors in reserve for us, and asked for something to
eat and drink. He very kindly ordered something to be brought, and
explained to me that by his "orders" he did not wish to interfere
with the actual state of facts; that General A. J. Smith would
occupy "Fort Hindman," which his troops had first entered, and I
could hold the lines outside, and go on securing the prisoners and
stores as I had begun. I returned to the position of Garland's
brigade and gave the necessary orders for marching all the
prisoners, disarmed, to a pocket formed by the river and two deep
gullies just above the fort, by which time it had become quite
dark. After dark another rebel regiment arrived from Pine Bluff,
marched right in, and was also made prisoners. There seemed to be
a good deal of feeling among the rebel officers against Garland,
who asked leave to stay with me that night, to which I of course
consented. Just outside the rebel parapet was a house which had
been used for a hospital. I had a room cleaned out, and occupied
it that night. A cavalry-soldier lent me his battered coffee-pot
with some coffee and scraps of hard bread out of his nose-bag;
Garland and I made some coffee, ate our bread together, and talked
politics by the fire till quite late at night, when we lay down on
straw that was saturated with the blood of dead or wounded men.
The next day the prisoners were all collected on their boats, lists
were made out, and orders given for their transportation to St.
Louis, in charge of my aide, Major Sanger. We then proceeded to
dismantle and level the forts, destroy or remove the stores, and we
found in the magazine the very ammunition which had been sent for
us in the Blue Wing, which was secured and afterward used in our
twenty-pound Parrott guns.

On the 13th we reembarked; the whole expedition returned out of the
river by the direct route down the Arkansas during a heavy
snow-storm, and rendezvoused in the Mississippi, at Napoleon, at
the mouth of the Arkansas. Here General McClernand told me he had
received a letter from General Grant at Memphis, who disapproved of
our movement up the Arkansas; but that communication was made
before he had learned of our complete success. When informed of
this, and of the promptness with which it had been executed, he
could not but approve. We were then ordered back to Milliken's
Bend, to await General Grant's arrival in person. We reached
Milliken's Bend January 21st.

McClernand's report of the capture of Fort Hindman almost ignored
the action of Porter's fleet altogether. This was unfair, for I
know that the admiral led his fleet in person in the river-attack,
and that his guns silenced those of Fort Hindman, and drove the
gunners into the ditch.

The aggregate loss in my corps at Arkansas Post was five hundred
and nineteen, viz., four officers and seventy-five men killed,
thirty-four officers and four hundred and six men wounded. I never
knew the losses in the gunboat fleet, or in Morgan's corps; but
they must have been less than in mine, which was more exposed. The
number of rebel dead must have been nearly one hundred and fifty;
of prisoners, by actual count, we secured four thousand seven
hundred and ninety-one, and sent them north to St. Louis.




The campaign of 1863, resulting, in the capture of Vicksburg, was
so important, that its history has been well studied and well
described in all the books treating of the civil war, more
especially by Dr. Draper, in his "History of the Civil War in
America," and in Badeau's "Military History of General Grant." In
the latter it is more fully and accurately given than in any other,
and is well illustrated by maps and original documents. I now need
only attempt to further illustrate Badeau's account by some
additional details. When our expedition came out of the Arkansas
River, January, 18,1863, and rendezvoused at the river-bank, in
front of the town of Napoleon, Arkansas, we were visited by General
Grant in person, who had come down from Memphis in a steamboat.
Although at this time Major-General J. A. McClernand was in command
of the Army of the Mississippi, by virtue of a confidential order
of the War Department, dated October 21, 1862, which order bore the
indorsement of President Lincoln, General Grant still exercised a
command over him, by reason of his general command of the
Department of the Tennessee. By an order (No. 210) of December 18,
1862, from the War Department, received at Arkansas Post, the
Western armies had been grouped into five corps d'armee, viz.: the
Thirteenth, Major-General McClernand; the Fourteenth, Major-General
George H. Thomas, in Middle Tennessee; the Fifteenth, Major-General
W. T. Sherman; the Sixteenth, Major-General Hurlbut, then at or
near Memphis; and the Seventeenth, Major-General McPherson, also at
and back of Memphis. General Grant when at Napoleon, on the 18th
of January, ordered McClernand with his own and my corps to return
to Vicksburg, to disembark on the west bank, and to resume work on
a canal across the peninsula, which had been begun by General
Thomas Williams the summer before, the object being to turn the
Mississippi River at that point, or at least to make a passage for
our fleet of gunboats and transports across the peninsula, opposite
Vicksburg. General Grant then returned to Memphis, ordered to Lake
Providence, about sixty miles above us, McPherson's corps, the
Seventeenth, and then came down again to give his personal
supervision to the whole movement.

The Mississippi River was very high and rising, and we began that
system of canals on which we expended so much hard work
fruitlessly: first, the canal at Young's plantation, opposite
Vicksburg; second, that at Lake Providence; and third, at the Yazoo
Pass, leading into the head-waters of the Yazoo River. Early in
February the gunboats Indianola and Queen of the West ran the
batteries of Vicksburg. The latter was afterward crippled in Red
River, and was captured by the rebels; and the Indianola was butted
and sunk about forty miles below Vicksburg. We heard the booming
of the guns, but did not know of her loss till some days after.
During the months of January and February, we were digging the
canal and fighting off the water of the Mississippi, which
continued to rise and threatened to drown us. We had no sure place
of refuge except the narrow levee, and such steamboats as remained
abreast of our camps. My two divisions furnished alternately a
detail of five hundred men a day, to work on the canal. So high
was the water in the beginning of March, that McClernand's corps
was moved to higher ground, at Milliken's Bend, but I remained at
Young's plantation, laid off a due proportion of the levee for each
subdivision of my command, and assigned other parts to such
steamboats as lay at the levee. My own headquarters were in Mrs.
Grove's house, which had the water all around it, and could only be
reached by a plank-walk from the levee, built on posts. General
Frederick Steele commanded the first division, and General D. Smart
the second; this latter division had been reenforced by General
Hugh Ewing's brigade, which had arrived from West Virginia.

At the time of its date I received the following note from General

MILLIKEN'S BEND, March 16, 1863

General SHERMAN.

DEAR SIR: I have just returned from a reconnoissance up Steele's
Bayou, with the admiral (Porter), and five of his gunboats. With
some labor in cutting tree-tops out of the way, it will be
navigable for any class of steamers.

I want you to have your pioneer corps, or one regiment of good men
for such work, detailed, and at the landing as soon as possible.

The party will want to take with them their rations, arms, and
sufficient camp and garrison equipage for a few days. I will have
a boat at any place you may designate, as early as the men can be
there. The Eighth Missouri (being many of them boatmen) would be
excellent men for this purpose.

As soon as you give directions for these men to be in readiness,
come up and see me, and I will explain fully. The tug that takes
this is instructed to wait for you. A full supply of axes will be

Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

This letter was instantly (8 a.m.) sent to Colonel Giles A. Smith,
commanding the Eighth Missouri, with orders to prepare immediately.
He returned it at 9.15, with an answer that the regiment was all
ready. I went up to Milliken's Bend in the tug, and had a
conference with the general, resulting in these orders:

BEFORE VICKSBURG, March 16, 1863

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Fifteenth Army Corps.

GENERAL: You will proceed as early as practicable up Steele's
Bayou, and through Black Bayou to Deer Creek, and thence with the
gunboats now there by any route they may take to get into the Yazoo
River, for the purpose of determining the feasibility of getting an
army through that route to the east bank of that river, and at a
point from which they can act advantageously against Vicksburg.

Make such details from your army corps as may be required to clear
out the channel of the various bayous through which transports
would have to ran, and to hold such points as in your judgment
should be occupied.

I place at your disposal to-day the steamers Diligent and Silver
Wave, the only two suitable for the present navigation of this
route. Others will be supplied you as fast as required, and they
can be got.

I have given directions (and you may repeat them) that the party
going on board the steamer Diligent push on until they reach Black
Bayou, only stopping sufficiently long at any point before reaching
there to remove such obstructions as prevent their own progress.
Captain Kossak, of the Engineers, will go with this party. The
other boat-load will commence their work in Steele's Bayou, and
make the navigation as free as possible all the way through.

There is but little work to be done in Steele's Bayou, except for
about five miles abort midway of the bayou. In this portion many
overhanging trees will have to be removed, and should be dragged
out of the channel.

Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

On returning to my camp at Young's Point, I started these two boats
up the Yazoo and Steele's Bayou, with the Eighth Missouri and some
pioneers, with axes, saws, and all the tools necessary. I gave
orders for a part of Stuart's division to proceed in the large
boats up the Mississippi River to a point at Gwin's plantation,
where a bend of Steele's Bayou neared the main river; and the next
day, with one or two stag-officers and orderlies, got a navy-tug,
and hurried up to overtake Admiral Porter. About sixty miles up
Steele's Bayou we came to the gunboat Price, Lieutenant Woodworth,
United States Navy; commanding, and then turned into Black Bayou, a
narrow, crooked channel, obstructed by overhanging oaks, and filled
with cypress and cotton-wood trees. The gunboats had forced their
way through, pushing aside trees a foot in diameter. In about four
miles we overtook the gunboat fleet just as it was emerging into
Deer Creek. Along Deer Creek the alluvium was higher, and there
was a large cotton-plantation belonging to a Mr. Hill, who was
absent, and the negroes were in charge of the place. Here I
overtook Admiral Porter, and accompanied him a couple of miles up
Deer Creek, which was much wider and more free of trees, with
plantations on both sides at intervals. Admiral Porter thought he
had passed the worst, and that he would be able to reach the
Rolling Fork and Sunflower. He requested me to return and use all
possible means to clear out Black Bayou. I returned to Hill's
plantation, which was soon reached by Major Coleman, with a part
of the Eighth Missouri; the bulk of the regiment and the pioneers
had been distributed along the bayous, and set to work under
the general supervision of Captain Kosaak. The Diligent and
Silver Wave then returned to twin's plantation and brought up
Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith, with the Sixth Missouri, and part
of the One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois. Admiral Porter was then
working up Deer Creek with his iron-clads, but he had left me a tug,
which enabled me to reconnoitre the country, which was all under
water except the narrow strip along Deer Creek. During the 19th I
heard the heavy navy-guns booming more frequently than seemed
consistent with mere guerrilla operations; and that night I got a
message from Porter, written on tissue-paper, brought me through
the swamp by a negro, who had it concealed in a piece of tobacco.

The admiral stated that he had met a force of infantry and
artillery which gave him great trouble by killing the men who had
to expose themselves outside the iron armor to shove off the bows
of the boats, which had so little headway that they would not
steer. He begged me to come to his rescue as quickly as possible.
Giles A. Smith had only about eight hundred men with him, but I
ordered him to start up Deer Creek at once, crossing to the east
side by an old bridge at Hill's plantation, which we had repaired
for the purpose; to work his way up to the gunboat, fleet, and to
report to the admiral that I would come, up with every man I could
raise as soon as possible. I was almost alone at Hill's, but took
a canoe, paddled down Black Bayou to the gunboat Price, and there,
luckily, found the Silver wave with a load of men just arrived from
twin's plantation. Taking some of the parties who were at work
along the bayou into an empty coal-barge, we tugged it up by a
navy-tug, followed by the Silver Wave, crashing through the trees,
carrying away pilot-house, smoke-stacks, and every thing
above-deck; but the captain (McMillan, of Pittsburg) was a brave
fellow, and realized the necessity. The night was absolutely
black, and we could only make two and a half of the four miles. We
then disembarked, and marched through the canebrake, carrying
lighted candles in our hands, till we got into the open
cotton-fields at Hill's plantation, where we lay down for a few
hours' rest. These men were a part of Giles A. Smith's brigade,
and part belonged to the brigade of T. Bilby Smith, the senior
officer present being Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, Fifty-fourth Ohio,
an excellent young officer. We had no horses.

On Sunday morning, March 21st, as soon as daylight appeared, we
started, following the same route which Giles A. Smith had taken
the day before; the battalion of the Thirteenth United States
Regulars, Major Chase, in the lead. We could hear Porter's guns,
and knew that moments were precious. Being on foot myself, no man
could complain, and we generally went at the double-quick, with
occasional rests. The road lay along Deer Creek, passing several
plantations; and occasionally, at the bends, it crossed the swamp,
where the water came above my hips. The smaller drummer-boys had
to carry their drums on their heads, and most of the men slang
their cartridge-boxes around their necks. The soldiers generally
were glad to have their general and field officers afoot, but we
gave them a fair specimen of marching, accomplishing about
twenty-one miles by noon. Of course, our speed was accelerated by
the sounds of the navy-guns, which became more and more distinct,
though we could see nothing. At a plantation near some Indian
mounds we met a detachment of the Eighth Missouri, that had been up
to the fleet, and had been sent down as a picket to prevent any
obstructions below. This picket reported that Admiral Porter had
found Deer Creek badly obstructed, had turned back; that there was
a rebel force beyond the fleet, with some six-pounders, and nothing
between us and the fleet. So I sat down on the door-sill of a
cabin to rest, but had not been seated ten minutes when, in the
wood just ahead, not three hundred yards off, I heard quick and
rapid firing of musketry. Jumping up, I ran up the road, and found
Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, who said the head of his column had struck
a small force of rebels with a working gang of negroes, provided
with axes, who on the first fire had broken and run back into the
swamp. I ordered Rice to deploy his brigade, his left on the road,
and extending as far into the swamp as the ground would permit, and
then to sweep forward until he uncovered the gunboats. The
movement was rapid and well executed, and we soon came to some
large cotton-fields and could see our gunboats in Deer Creek,
occasionally firing a heavy eight-inch gun across the cotton field
into the swamp behind. About that time Major Kirby, of the Eighth
Missouri, galloped down the road on a horse he had picked up the
night before, and met me. He explained the situation of affairs,
and offered me his horse. I got on bareback, and rode up the
levee, the sailors coming out of their iron-clads and cheering most
vociferously as I rode by, and as our men swept forward across the
cotton-field in full view. I soon found Admiral Porter, who was on
the deck of one of his iron-clads, with a shield made of the
section of a smoke-stack, and I doubt if he was ever more glad to
meet a friend than he was to see me. He explained that he had
almost reached the Rolling Fork, when the woods became full of
sharp-shooters, who, taking advantage of trees, stumps, and the
levee, would shoot down every man that poked his nose outside the
protection of their armor; so that he could not handle his clumsy
boats in the narrow channel. The rebels had evidently dispatched a
force from Haines's Bluff up the Sunflower to the Rolling Fork, had
anticipated the movement of Admiral Porter's fleet, and had
completely obstructed the channel of the upper part of Deer Creek
by felling trees into it, so that further progress in that
direction was simply impossible. It also happened that, at the
instant of my arrival, a party of about four hundred rebels, armed
and supplied with axes, had passed around the fleet and had got
below it, intending in like manner to block up the channel by the
felling of trees, so as to cut off retreat. This was the force we
had struck so opportunely at the time before described. I inquired
of Admiral Porter what he proposed to do, and he said he wanted to
get out of that scrape as quickly as possible. He was actually
working back when I met him, and, as we then had a sufficient force
to cover his movement completely, he continued to back down Deer
Creek. He informed me at one time things looked so critical that
he had made up his mind to blow up the gunboats, and to escape with
his men through the swamp to the Mississippi River. There being no
longer any sharp-shooters to bother the sailors, they made good
progress; still, it took three full days for the fleet to back out
of Deer Creek into Black Bayou, at Hill's plantation, whence
Admiral Porter proceeded to his post at the month of the Yazoo,
leaving Captain Owen in command of the fleet. I reported the facts
to General Grant, who was sadly disappointed at the failure of the
fleet to get through to the Yazoo above Haines's Bluff, and ordered
us all to resume our camps at Young's Point. We accordingly
steamed down, and regained our camps on the 27th. As this
expedition up Deer Creek was but one of many efforts to secure a
footing from which to operate against Vicksburg, I add the report
of Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith, who was the first to reach the

March 28, 1863

Captain L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the movements of the First
Brigade in the expedition up Steele's Bayou, Black Bayou, and Deer
Creek. The Sixth Missouri and One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois
regiments embarked at the month of Muddy Bayou on the evening of
Thursday, the 18th of March, and proceeded up Steele's Bayou to the
month of Black; thence up Black Bayou to Hill's plantation, at its
junction with Deer Creek, where we arrived on Friday at four
o'clock p.m., and joined the Eighth Missouri, Lieutenant-Colonel
Coleman commanding, which had arrived at that point two days
before. General Sherman had also established his headquarters
there, having preceded the Eighth Missouri in a tug, with no other
escort than two or three of his staff, reconnoitring all the
different bayous and branches, thereby greatly facilitating the
movements of the troops, but at the same time exposing himself
beyond precedent in a commanding general. At three o'clock of
Saturday morning, the 20th instant, General Sherman having received
a communication from Admiral Porter at the mouth of Rolling Fork,
asking for a speedy cooperation of the land forces with his fleet,
I was ordered by General Sherman to be ready, with all the
available force at that point, to accompany him to his relief; but
before starting it was arranged that I should proceed with the
force at hand (eight hundred men), while he remained, again
entirely unprotected, to hurry up the troops expected to arrive
that night, consisting of the Thirteenth Infantry and One Hundred
and Thirteenth Illinois Volunteers, completing my brigade, and the
Second Brigade, Colonel T. Kilby Smith commanding.

This, as the sequel showed; proved a very wise measure, and
resulted in the safety of the whole fleet. At daybreak we were in
motion, with a regular guide. We had proceeded but about six
miles, when we found the enemy had been very busy felling trees to
obstruct the creek.

All the negroes along the route had been notified to be ready at
night fall to continue the work. To prevent this as much as
possible, I ordered all able-bodied negroes to be taken along, and
warned some of the principal inhabitants that they would be held
responsible for any more obstructions being placed across the
creek. We reached the admiral about four o'clock p.m., with no
opposition save my advance-guard (Company A, Sixth Missouri) being
fired into from the opposite side of the creek, killing one man,
and slightly wounding another; having no way of crossing, we had to
content ourselves with driving them beyond musket-range.
Proceeding with as little loss of time as possible, I found the
fleet obstructed in front by fallen trees, in rear by a sunken
coal-barge, and surrounded, by a large force of rebels with an
abundant supply of artillery, but wisely keeping their main force
out of range of the admiral's guns. Every tree and stump covered a
sharp-shooter, ready to pick off any luckless marine who showed his
head above-decks, and entirely preventing the working-parties from
removing obstructions.

In pursuance of orders from General Sherman, I reported to Admiral
Porter for orders, who turned over to me all the land-forces in his
fleet (about one hundred and fifty men), together with two
howitzers, and I was instructed by him to retain a sufficient force
to clear out the sharp-shooters, and to distribute the remainder
along the creek for six or seven miles below, to prevent any more
obstructions being placed in it during the night. This was
speedily arranged, our skirmishers capturing three prisoners.
Immediate steps were now taken to remove the coal-barge, which was
accomplished about daylight on Sunday morning, when the fleet moved
back toward Black Bayou. By three o'clock p.m. we had only made
about six miles, owing to the large number of trees to be removed;
at this point, where our progress was very slow, we discovered a
long line of the enemy filing along the edge of the woods, and
taking position on the creek below us, and about one mile ahead of
our advance. Shortly after, they opened fire on the gunboats from
batteries behind the cavalry and infantry. The boats not only
replied to the batteries, which they soon silenced, but poured a
destructive fire into their lines. Heavy skirmishing was also
heard in our front, supposed to be by three companies from the
Sixth and Eighth Missouri, whose position, taken the previous night
to guard the creek, was beyond the point reached by the enemy, and
consequently liable to be cut off or captured. Captain Owen, of
the Louisville, the leading boat, made every effort to go through
the obstructions and aid in the rescuing of the men. I ordered
Major Kirby, with four companies of the Sixth Missouri, forward,
with two companies deployed. He soon met General Sherman, with the
Thirteenth Infantry and One Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois,
driving the enemy before them, and opening communication along the
creek with the gunboats. Instead of our three companies referred
to as engaging the enemy, General Sherman had arrived at a very
opportune moment with the two regiments mentioned above, and the
Second Brigade. The enemy, not expecting an attack from that
quarter, after some hot skirmishing, retreated. General Sherman
immediately ordered the Thirteenth Infantry and One Hundred and
Thirteenth Illinois to pursue; but, after following their trace for
about two miles, they were recalled.

We continued our march for about two miles, when we bivouacked for
the night. Early on Monday morning (March 22d) we continued our
march, but owing to the slow progress of the gunboats did not reach
Hill's plantation until Tuesday, the 23d instant, where we remained
until the 25th; we then reembarked, and arrived at Young's Point on
Friday, the 27th instant.

Below you will find a list of casualties. Very respectfully,

Giles A. SMITH,
Colonel Eighth Missouri, commanding First Brigade.

P. S.-I forgot to state above that the Thirteenth Infantry and One
Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois being under the immediate command
of General Sherman, he can mention them as their conduct deserves.

On the 3d of April, a division of troops, commanded by
Brigadier-General J. M. Tuttle, was assigned to my corps, and
was designated the Third Division; and, on the 4th of April,
Brigadier-General D. Stuart was relieved from the command of the
Second Division, to which Major-General Frank P. Blair was appointed
by an order from General Grant's headquarters. Stuart had been with
me from the time we were at Benton Barracks, in command of the
Fifty-fifth Illinois, then of a brigade, and finally of a division;
but he had failed in seeking a confirmation by the Senate to his
nomination as brigadier-general, by reason of some old affair at
Chicago, and, having resigned his commission as colonel, he was out
of service. I esteemed him very highly, and was actually mortified
that the service should thus be deprived of so excellent and gallant
an officer. He afterward settled in New Orleans as a lawyer, and
died about 1867 or 1868.

On the 6th of April, my command, the Fifteenth Corps, was composed
of three divisions:

The First Division, commanded by Major-General Fred Steele; and his
three brigades by Colonel Manter, Colonel Charles R. Wood, and
Brigadier-General John M. Thayer.

The Second Division, commanded by Major-General Frank P. Blair; and
his three brigades by Colonel Giles A. Smith, Colonel Thomas Gilby
Smith, and Brigadier-General Hugh Ewing.

The Third Division, commanded by Brigadier-General J. M. Tuttle;
and his three brigades by Brigadier-General R. P. Buckland, Colonel
J. A. Mower, and Brigadier-General John E. Smith.

My own staff then embraced: Dayton, McCoy, and Hill, aides; J. H.
Hammond, assistant adjutant-general; Sanger, inspector-general;
McFeeley, commissary; J. Condit Smith, quartermaster; Charles
McMillan, medical director; Ezra Taylor, chief of artillery;
Jno. C. Neely, ordnance-officer; Jenney and Pitzman, engineers.

By this time it had become thoroughly demonstrated that we could
not divert the main river Mississippi, or get practicable access to
the east bank of the Yazoo, in the rear of Vicksburg, by any of the
passes; and we were all in the habit of discussing the various
chances of the future. General Grant's headquarters were at
Milliken's Bend, in tents, and his army was strung along the river
all the way from Young's Point up to Lake Providence, at least
sixty miles. I had always contended that the best way to take
Vicksburg was to resume the movement which had been so well begun
the previous November, viz., for the main army to march by land
down the country inland of the Mississippi River; while the
gunboat-fleet and a minor land-force should threaten Vicksburg on
its river-front.

I reasoned that, with the large force then subject to General
Grant's orders-viz., four army corps--he could easily resume the
movement from Memphis, by way of Oxford and Grenada, to Jackson,
Mississippi, or down the ridge between the Yazoo and Big Black; but
General Grant would not, for reasons other than military, take any
course which looked like, a step backward; and he himself concluded
on the river movement below Vicksburg, so as to appear like
connecting with General Banks, who at the same time was besieging
Port Hudson from the direction of New Orleans.

Preliminary orders had already been given, looking to the digging
of a canal, to connect the river at Duckport with Willow Bayou,
back of Milliken's Bend, so as to form a channel for the conveyance
of supplies, by way of Richmond, to New Carthage; and several steam
dredge-boats had come from the upper rivers to assist in the work.
One day early in April, I was up at General Grant's headquarters,
and we talked over all these things with absolute freedom. Charles
A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, was there, and Wilson,
Rawlins, Frank Blair, McPherson, etc. We all knew, what was
notorious, that General McClernand was still intriguing against
General Grant, in hopes to regain the command of the whole
expedition, and that others were raising a clamor against General


Back to Full Books