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

Part 6 out of 6

Courcey was justified by the failure of the corps of A. J. Smith,
and the command of Colonel Lindsey, to advance simultaneously to
the assault. Both had the same difficulties to encounter
--impassable bayous. The enemy's line of battle was concave, and
De Courcey advanced against his centre--hence he sustained a
concentric fire, and the withdrawal of Steele from the front of the
enemy's right on the 28th ult. enabled the enemy on the following
day to concentrate his right upon his centre.

I regret to find, from the report of Brigadier-General Thayer, some
one regiment skulked; this I did not observe, nor is it mentioned
by General Blair, though his were the troops which occupied that
portion of the field. As far as my observation extended, the
troops bore themselves nobly; but the Sixteenth Ohio Infantry was
peerless on the field, as it had ever been in camp or on the march.
Lieutenant-Colonel Kershner, commanding, was wounded and taken
prisoner. He is an officer of rare merit, and deserves to command
a brigade. Lieutenant-Colonel Dieter, commanding the Fifty-eighth
Ohio, was killed within the enemy's works; and Lieutenant-Colonel
Monroe, Twenty-second Kentucky, was struck down at the head of his

I again express my profound acknowledgments to Brigadier-Generals
Blair and Thayer, and Colonels De Conrcey, Lindsey, and Sheldon,
brigade commanders. Also to Major M. C. Garber, assistant
quartermaster; Captain S. S. Lyon, acting topographical engineer;
Lieutenant Burdick, acting ordnance officer; Lieutenant Hutchins,
acting chief of staff; Lieutenants H. G. Fisher and Smith, of
Signal Corps; Lieutenant E. D. Saunders, my acting assistant
adjutant-general; and Lieutenants English and Montgomery, acting
aides-de-camp, for the efficient services rendered me.

Nor can I close this report without speaking in terms of high
praise of the meritorious and gallant services of Captains Foster
and Lamphier. Their batteries silenced several of the enemy's
works, and throughout the operations rendered good service. My
sincere acknowledgments are also due to Captain Griffith,
commanding First Iowa Battery, and Captain Hoffman, commanding
Fourth Ohio Battery.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEORGE W. MORGAN, Brigadier-General Volunteers.

CINCINNATI, February 8, 1876.

MY DEAR GENERAL: Regarding the attack at Chickasaw Bayou, my record
shows the position of Steele on the left; Morgan to his right;
Morgan L. Smith to his right, and A. J. Smith on the extreme right;
the latter not expected to accomplish much more than a diversion,
the result to come from the three other divisions, Morgan having
the best opportunity. Saturday night they were in position; you
were at Lake's plantation, right and rear of Morgan.

The attack for lodgment on the hills was ordered for Sunday
morning, December 28th. I was sent to A. J. Smith before daylight,
and returned to you soon after. You were with Morgan. You had
fully explained to him the importance of his success, and that he
should be present with the attacking column, which was to be a part
of his division, supported by the remainder, and by Blair's brigade
of Steele's division cooperating. The attack was to be
simultaneous, by the four divisions, on a signal.

Morgan's answer to you was that, when the signal was given, he
would lead his attack, and with his life he would be on the bluffs
in fifteen minutes. He seemed of positive knowledge, and as sure of
success. You then retired to a central point, to be in easy
communication with Steele and Morgan L. Smith. The attack was
made, and developed, in the case of Steele, M. L. Smith, and A. J.
Smith, that to cross the bayou was impossible, if opposed by any
force, and in each they were by a strong one. Morgan's attacking
force succeeded in getting across the causeway and marsh, but he
did not go with it, nor support it with more men, and a large
number were captured from Blair's brigade after gaining the enemy's
last line of works covering the bayou. At the time everybody
blamed and criticised Morgan with the failure. You felt from the
advance of his attack it must be successful, and, as it pushed
forward, you sent me to urge on M. L. Smith, as Morgan was over,
and he, Smith, must aid by persistent attack, and give Morgan as
good a chance as could be to make his lodgment....

I am, etc., L. M. DAYTON
Late Colonel of the Staff, now of Cincinnati, Ohio
General W. T. SHERMAN, St. Louis, Missouri


" . . . . The expedition was wonderfully well provided with
provisions, transportation, and munitions, and even axes, picks,
and shovels, so much in use later in the war, evidenced the
forethought that governed this force. The boats, from their open
lower deck construction, proved admirable for transports, but their
tinder-box construction made fire-traps of them, requiring
unremitting vigilance. These points were well understood, and the
readiness with which the troops adapted themselves to circumstances
was a constant source of wonder and congratulations.

"The fleet collected at Friar's Point for final orders, and there
the order of sailing was laid down with great minuteness, and
private instructions issued to commanders of divisions, all of whom
had personal interviews with the commanding general, and received
personal explanations on pretty much every point involved. Our
headquarters boat, the Forest Queen, was not very comfortable, nor
well provided, but General Sherman submitted cheerfully, on the
grounds of duty, and thought Conway a fine fellow. I was only able
to concede that he was a good steamboat captain....

"Our camp appointments were Spartan in the extreme, and in their
simplicity would have met the demands of any demagogue in the land.
The nights were cold and damp, and General Sherman uncomfortably
active in his preparations, so that the assistant adjutant-general
had no very luxurious post just then. We were surrounded with
sloughs. The ground was wet, and the water, although in winter,
was very unwholesome. Many of our men, to this day, have reminders
of the Yazoo in ague, fevers, and diseases of the bowels. Cavalry
was useless. One battalion of Illinois cavalry was strongly
suspected of camping in the timber, until time passed enough to
justify the suspicion of having been somewhere. Really the
strength of Vicksburg was in being out of reach of attack....

"My orders were to learn and report what was going on on the right,
particularly to try and form an idea of the enemy's force in front
of M. L. Smith's division, and at the sand-bar. Leaving my horse
close in the rear of the Sixth Missouri, when the fire became too
heavy for riding, I succeeded, by taking frequent cover, in
reaching unhurt the verge of the bayou among the drift-logs.
There, by concert of action with Lieutenant-Colonel Blood, of the
Sixth Missouri, his regiment, and the Thirteenth Regular Infantry,
kept up a heavy fire on everything that showed along the levee and
earthworks in front. The enemy were behind the embankment, not
over one hundred and fifty yards across the bayou. Several
officers, including Colonel Blood, Colonel Kilby Smith, and myself,
managed, by getting on the piles of drift, to see over the levee
through the cleared fields beyond, even to the foot of the bluff.
The chips and twigs flew around lively enough, but we staid up long
enough to make sure that the enemy had as many men behind the levee
as could get cover. We saw, also, a line of rifle-pits in the
rear, commanding the rear of the levee, and still beyond, winding
along the foot of the bluff, a road worn by long use deep into the
side-hill, and with the side next us strengthened with a good
earthwork, affording a covered line of communication in the rear.
The fire of our men was so well maintained that we were able to see
all these things, say a minute or more. Some of those who ventured
were wounded, but those mentioned and myself escaped unhurt. I
advised that men enough to hold the position, once across--say
three hundred--should make a rush (protected as our lookout had
been by a heavy fire) across the sand-bar, and get a footing under
the other bank of the bayou, as the nucleus of an attacking force,
if General Sherman decided to attack there, or to make a strong
diversion if the attack was made at the head of Chickasaw Bayou, in
front of Morgan. General A. J. Smith, commanding First and Second
Divisions, approved of this. While returning to General Sherman, I
passed along the Second and part of the Third Division. On the
left of the Second I found a new Illinois regiment, high up in
numbers, working its way into position. The colonel, a brave but
inexperienced officer, was trying to lead his men according to the
popular pictorial idea, viz., riding in advance waving his sword.
I was leading my horse, and taking advantage of such cover as I
could find on my course, but this man acted so bravely that I tried
to save him. He did not accept my expostulations with very good
grace, but was not rough about it. While I was begging him to
dismount, he waved his sword and advanced. In a second he was
shot, through the chest, and dropped from his horse, plucky to the
last. He died, I was told, within the hour. Many of the regiments
were new and inexperienced, but as a rule behaved well. The fire
along the bayou was severe, but not very fatal, on account of the
cover. I was constantly asked what news from Grant, for from the
moment of our arrival in the Yazoo we were in expectation of either
hearing his guns in the rear, or of having communication with him.
This encouraged the men greatly, but the long waiting was
disappointing, as the enemy was evidently in large force in the
plenty of works, and a very strong position. Careful estimates and
available information placed their force at fifteen to twenty
thousand men. I returned to headquarters about the middle of the
afternoon, and made my report to the general. We were busy till
after midnight, and again early in the morning of the 29th, in
preparing orders for the attack. These were unusually minute in
detail. It seemed as though no contingency was left unprovided
for. Urgent orders and cautions as to rations and ammunition were
given. Drawings of the line of attack, orders for supports, all
and everything was foreseen and given in writing, with personal
explanations to commanders of divisions, brigades, and even
commanders of regiments. Indeed, the commanding general, always
careful as to detail, left nothing to chance, and with experienced
and ordinate officers we would have succeeded, for the troops were
good. The general plan involved a feint on our left toward
Haines's Bluff, by the navy, under Admiral Porter, with whom we
were in constant communication, while between him and General
Sherman perfect harmony existed. On the right a demonstration by
A. J. Smith was to be made. The Second Division (Stuart's) was to
cross the sand-bar, and the Third (General Morgan's) was to cross
on a small bridge over the dough at the head of Chickasaw Bayou,
and, supported by Steele, was to push straight for the Bluff at the
nearest spur where there was a battery in position, and to effect
a lodgment there and in the earthworks. General Sherman gave his
orders in person to Morgan and Steele. I understood Morgan to
promise that he would lead his division in person, and he seemed to
expect an easy victory, and expressed himself freely to that
effect. The aides were sent out, until I was left alone with the
general and a couple of orderlies. He located himself in a
position easy of access, and the most convenient afforded to the
point of attack. He directed me to see what I could, and report if
I met anything that he should know. I galloped as fast as possible
to the right, and found part of the Sixth Missouri pushing over the
sand-bar covered by the Thirteenth Regulars with a heavy fire. We
supposed, if once across, they could get up the bank and turn the
levee against the enemy, and left with that impression. Being in
heavy timber, I was not quite sure of my way back to the general,
his location being new, and therefore pushed full gallop for
Morgan's front, catching a good many stray shots from the
sharpshooters behind the levee, as I was compelled to keep in sight
of the bayou to hold direction. Something over half-way along
Morgan's division front, the commander of a Kentucky regiment
hailed me and said he must have support, as he was threatened by a
masked battery, and the enemy was in force in his front, and might
cross any moment. I answered, rather shortly, 'How the devil do
you know there is a masked battery? If you can't get over, how can
the rebels get at you?' He insisted on the battery, and danger. I
finally told him the bayou was utterly impassable there, but, if he
insisted the enemy could cross, I would insist on an advance on our
side at that point. Hurrying on to make up lost time, I soon
reached Morgan. He was making encouraging speeches in a general
way, but stopped to ask me questions as to Steele's rank, date of
commission, etc. I was very much disturbed at this, fearing want
of harmony, and rode on to Steele, whom I found cursing Morgan so
fiercely that I could not exactly make out the source of the
trouble, or reason why; but saw want of concert clearly enough. I
hastened back to General Sherman, and endeavored to impress my
ideas on him and my fears; but, while he admitted the facts, he
could not be made to believe that any jealousy or personal quarrel
could lead to a failure to support each other, and a neglect of
duty. The signal for attack had already been given, and the
artillery had opened, when I left him again for Morgan's front. I
found Morgan where I left him, and the troops advancing. I had
understood that he was to lead his division, and asked about it,
but, getting no satisfaction, pushed for the front, crossing the
slough at the little bridge at the head of the bayou. I found the
willows cut off eighteen inches or two feet long, with sharp points
above the mud, making it slow and difficult to pass, save at the
bridge. I overtook the rear of the advance about two or three
hundred feet up the gentle slope, and was astonished to find how
small a force was making the attack. I was also surprised to find
that they were Steele's men instead of Morgan's. I also saw
several regiments across the bayou, but not advancing; they were
near the levee. A heavy artillery and infantry fire was going on
all this time. While making my way along the column, from which
there were very few falling back, a shell burst near me, and the
concussion confused me at the time and left me with a headache for
several months. When I got my wits about me again I found a good
many coming back, but the main part of the force was compact and
keeping up the fight. I did not get closer to the woods than about
five hundred feet, and found that a large number had penetrated
into the enemy's works. When our men fell back, very few ran, but
came slowly and sullenly, far more angry than frightened. I found
General Frank Blair on foot, and with him Colonel Sea, of Southwest
Missouri, and learned that Colonel Thomas Fletcher, afterward
Governor of Missouri, was captured with many of his men. They both
insisted there on the spot, with those around us, that if all the
men ordered up had gone up, or even all that crossed the bayou had
moved forward, we could have readily established ourselves in the
enemy's works. I was firmly of the same opinion at the time on the
ground; and, an entrance effected, we could have brought the whole
force on dry ground, and had a base of operations against
Vicksburg--though probably, in view of later events, we would have
had to stand a siege from Pemberton's army. After explanations
with Blair, I rode to where the men were, who had crossed the
bayou, but had not advanced with the others. I found them to be De
Courcey's brigade; of Morgan's division, which General Sherman
supposed to be in advance. In fact, it was the intended support
that made the attack. A correspondence and controversy followed
between General Blair and Colonel De Courcey, most of which I have,
but nothing came of it. On reaching the bayou, I found that
Thayer's brigade, of Steele's division, had in some way lost its
direction and filed off to the right. Remembering the masked
battery, I suspected that had something to do with the matter, and,
on following it up, I learned that the Kentucky colonel before
mentioned had appealed for aid against the masked battery and
invisible force of rebels, and that a regiment had been ordered to
him. This regiment, filing off into the timber, had been followed
by Thayer's brigade, supposing it to be advancing to the front, and
thus left a single brigade to attack a superior force of the enemy
in an intrenched and naturally strong position. By the time the
mistake could be rectified, it was too late. Our loss was from one
hundred and fifty to two hundred killed, and about eleven hundred
prisoners and wounded. During the afternoon I went with a flag of
truce, with reference to burying the dead. I saw between eighty
and one hundred of our men dead, all stripped. There were others
closer into the enemy's works than I was allowed to go. On going
later to where the Sixth Missouri crossed, I found that they were
under the bank, and had dug in with their hands and bayonets, or
anything in reach, to protect themselves from a vertical fire from
the enemy overhead, who had a heavy force there. With great
difficulty they were withdrawn at night. Next day arrangements
were made to attempt a lodgment below Haines's Bluff: This was to
be done by Steele's command, while the rest of the force attacked
again where we had already tried. During the day locomotives
whistled, and a great noise and fuss went on in our front, and we
supposed that Grant was driving in Pemberton, and expected firing
any moment up the Yazoo or in the rear of Vicksburg. Not hearing
this, we concluded that Pemberton was throwing his forces into
Vicksburg. A heavy fog prevented Steele from making his movement.
Rain began to fall, and our location was not good to be in after a
heavy rain, or with the river rising. During the night (I think)
of January, 1, 1863, our troops were embarked, material and
provisions having been loaded during the day. A short time before
daylight of the 2d, I went by order of the general commanding, to
our picket lines and carefully examined the enemy's lines, wherever
a camp-fire indicated their presence. They were not very vigilant,
and I once got close enough to hear them talk, but could understand
nothing. Early in the morning I came in with the rear-guard, the
enemy advancing his pickets and main guards only, and making no
effort at all to press us. Once I couldn't resist the temptation
to fire into a squad that came bolder than the rest, and the two
shots were good ones. We received a volley in return that did come
very close among us, but hurt none of my party. Very soon after
our rear-guard was aboard, General Sherman learned from Admiral
Porter that McClernand had arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo. He
went, taking me and one other staff-officer, to see McClernand, and
found that, under an order from the President, he had taken command
of the Army of the Mississippi. He and his staff, of whom I only
remember two-Colonels Scates and Braham, assistant adjutant-general
and aide-de-camp--seemed to think they had a big thing, and, so far
as I could judge, they had just that. All hands thought the
country expected them to cut their way to the Gulf; and to us, who
had just come out of the swamp, the cutting didn't seem such an
easy job as to the new-comers. Making due allowance for the
elevation they seemed to feel in view of their job, everything
passed off pleasantly, and we learned that General Grant's
communications had been cut at Holly Springs by the capture of
Murphy and his force (at Holly Springs), and that he was either in
Memphis by that time or would soon be. So that, everything
considered, it was about as well that we did not get our forces on
the bluff's of Walnut Hill."

The above statement was sent to General Sherman in a letter dated
"Chicago, February 5,1876," and signed "John H. Hammond." Hammond
was General Sherman's assistant adjutant-general at the Chickasaw

J. E. TOURTELOTTE, Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

On 29th December, 1862, at Chickasaw Bayou, I was in command of the
Thirty-first Missouri Volunteer Infantry, First Brigade, First
Division, Fifteenth Army Corps (Blair's brigade). Colonel Wyman,
of the Thirteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, having been killed,
I was the senior colonel of the brigade. General Blair rode up to
where my regiment lay, and said to me:

"We are to make a charge here; we will charge in two lines; your
regiment will be in the first line, and the Twenty-ninth
(Cavender's) will support you. Form here in the timber, and move
out across the bayou on a double-quick, and go right on to the top
of the heights in your front." He then told me to await a signal.
I then attempted to make a reconnaissance of the ground over which
we would have to charge, and rode out to the open ground in my
front, and saw that there was water and soft mud in the bayou, and
was fired upon by the sharp-shooters of the enemy, and turned and
went back into the woods where my command lay. Soon after that
General Blair came near me, and I told him there was water and mud
in the bayou, and I doubted if we could get across. He answered me
that General Morgan told him there was no water nor mud to hinder
us. I remarked that I had seen it myself, and General Morgan, or
any one else, could see it if he would risk being shot at pretty
lively. I then told General Blair that it was certain destruction
to us if we passed over the abatis upon the open ground where there
had once been a corn-field; that we could never reach the base of
the hill. He turned to me and said, "Can't you take your regiment
up there?" I told him, "Yes, I can take my regiment anywhere,
because the men do not know any better than to go," but remarked
that old soldiers could not be got to go up there. General Blair
then said, "Tom, if we succeed, this will be a grand thing; you
will have the glory of leading the assault." He then went on to
say that General Morgan's division would support us, and they were
heroes of many battles, and pointed to the Fifty-eighth Ohio, then
forming in the rear of the Thirteenth Illinois on my right, and
said: "See these men? They are a part of Morgan's division, and are
heroes of many battles." I laughingly said that they might be
heroes, but the regiment did not number as many as one of my
companies. He again assured me we would be supported by Morgan's
division, and all I had to do was to keep right on and "keep going
till you get into Vicksburg." I took my position in advance of my
regiment and awaited the signal. When we heard it, we raised a
shout, and started at a double-quick, the Thirteenth Illinois on my
right. I saw no troops on my left. When we emerged from the
woods, the enemy opened upon us; crossing the bayou under fire, and
many of the men sinking in the mud and water, our line was very
much disordered, but we pretty well restored it before reaching the
abatis. Here we were greatly disordered, but somewhat restored the
line on reaching the plateau or corn-field. The Twenty-ninth
Missouri came on, gallantly supporting us. The Thirteenth Illinois
came out upon the corn-field, and the Fifty-eighth Ohio followed
close upon it. There was firing to my left, and as I afterward
learned was from the Fourth Iowa of Thayer's brigade (and I believe
of Steele's division). I was struck and fell, and my regiment went
back in great disorder. The fire was terrific. I saw beyond the
Thirteenth Illinois, to my right, a disordered line, and learned
afterward it was the Sixteenth Ohio. When I was taken from the
field by the enemy and taken into Vicksburg, I found among the
wounded and prisoners men and officers of the Sixteenth and
Fifty-eighth Ohio, and of the Twenty-ninth and Thirty-first
Missouri, and Thirteenth Illinois. After I was exchanged and
joined my command, General Blair laughingly remarked to me that I
had literally obeyed his order and gone "straight on to Vicksburg."
He lamented the cutting to pieces of our force on that day. We
talked the whole matter over at his headquarters during the siege
of Vicksburg. He said that if the charge had been made along our
whole line with the same vigor of attack made by his brigade, and
if we had been supported as Morgan promised to do, we might have
succeeded. I dissented from the opinion that we could even then
have succeeded. I asked him what excuse Morgan gave for failing to
support us, and he said that Colonel or General De Courcey was in
some manner to blame for that, but he said Morgan was mistaken as
to the nature of the ground and generally as to the feasibility of
the whole thing, and was responsible for the failure to afford us
the support he had promised; that he and General Sherman and all of
them were misled by the statements and opinions of Morgan as to the
situation in our front, and Morgan was, on his part, deceived by
the reports of his scouts about other matters as well as the matter
of the water in the bayou.



Extracts from Admiral Porter's Journal.

Sherman and I had made arrangements to capture Arkansas Post.

On the 31st of December, while preparing to go out of the Yazoo, an
army officer called to see me, and said that he belonged to General
McClernand's staff, and that the general was at the mouth of the
Yazoo River, and desired to see me at once. I sent word to the
general that if he wished to see me he could have an opportunity by
calling on board my flag-ship.

A few moments after I had heard the news of McClernand'a arrival, I
saw Sherman pulling about in a boat, and hailed him, informing him
that McClernand was at the mouth of the Yazoo. Sherman then came
on board, and, in consequence of this unexpected news, determined
to postpone the movement out of the Yazoo River, and let McClernand
take that upon himself.

General McClernand took my hint and came on board the flag-ship,
but I soon discovered that any admiral, Grant, Sherman, or all the
generals in the army, were nobody in his estimation. Sherman had
been at McClernand's headquarters to see him and state the
condition of affairs, and he then suggested to the latter the plan
of going to Arkansas Post.

I had a number of fine maps hanging up in my cabin, and when
McClernand came on board he examined them all with the eye of a
connoisseur. He then stated to me as a new thing the plan he
proposed!!! of going to Arkansas Post and stirring up our troops,
which had been "demoralized by the late defeat" (Sherman was
present, looking daggers at him). I answered, "Yes, General
Sherman and myself have already arranged for going to Arkansas
Post." Sherman then made some remark about the disposition of the
troops in the coming expedition, when McClernand gave him rather a
curt answer. McClernand then remarked, "If you will let me have
three gunboats, I will go and take the place." Now General
McClernand had about as much idea of what a gunboat was, or could
do, as the man in the moon. He did not know, the difference
between an ironclad and a "tin-clad." He had heard that gunboats
had taken Fort Henry, and that was all be knew about them. I said
to him: "I'll tell you what I will do, General McClernand. If
General Sherman goes in command of the troops, I will go myself in
command of a proper force, and will insure the capture of the
post." McClernand winced under this, and Sherman quietly walked
off into the after-cabin. He beckoned me to come there, while
McClernand was apparently deeply engaged in studying out a chart,
making believe he was interested, in order to conceal his temper.
Sherman said to me: "Admiral, how could you make such a remark to
McClernand? He hates me already, and you have made him an enemy
for life."

"I don't care," said I; "he shall not treat you rudely in my cabin,
and I was glad of the opportunity of letting him know my
sentiments." By this time, General McClernand having bottled up
his wrath, or cooled down, I went in to him and we discussed the
matter. He consented that Sherman should go in command of the
troops, and the interview ended pleasantly enough.

The above extracts from Admiral Porter's journal were sent by the
admiral to General Sherman, inclosed in a letter dated "Washington,
May 29, 1875," and signed "David D. Porter."


After leaving the Yazoo, the Army of the Mississippi rendezvous was
at Milliken's Bend. During the night of January 4th or 5th,
General McClernand came on board the Forest Queen, and with General
Sherman went to the Black Hawk flag-boat. There an interview took
place, during which the expedition to Arkansas Post took shape.
General Sherman having asked leave to take the post, and Admiral
Porter having decided to go along, McClernand thought best to go
with his entire army, although the enemy were supposed to have only
about four or five thousand men, and the fort was little more than
a large earthwork commanding the river.

General Sherman's command was then entitled the Second Corps, Army
of the Mississippi, and was comprised of the First Division,
Blair's, Hovey's, and Thayer's brigades, commanded by Steele; and
the Second Division, commanded by David Stuart, with Colonels Giles
A. and Kilby Smith commanding brigades.

Our fleet was convoyed by three ironclads and several other
gunboats. The weather was bitterly cold for that latitude; we were
four days getting into the Arkansas River, which we entered by the
White River cut-off; and my recollection is, that our passing the
mouth of the main river deceived the enemy as to our destination.
The entrance through the cut-off was feasible by reason of high
water, and I think made our appearance a surprise to the force at
the post. We disembarked on the morning of the 10th of January.
Stuart's division first encountered the enemy behind an earthwork
about four miles from the fort, running across the solid ground
from the river to a swamp. General Sherman in person took Steele's
division, and followed a road leading to the rear of the earthwork
just mentioned. We had got fairly under way when the rebels fell
back to the fort, and McClernand, coming up, ordered us to fall
back, and march up the river. It seemed to me then, and afterward,
that it would have been better to have marched straight to the rear
of the fort, as we started to do. We soon overtook Stuart and
closed in, General Sherman on the right, Morgan's force on the
left, reaching to the river, where the gunboats were, while Sherman
reached from the road which connected the post with the back
country, toward where the earthworks reached the river above the
fort, and threatened their communications with Little Rock. The
night was cold and cloudy, with some snow. There were a good many
abandoned huts to our rear, but our forces in position lay on the
frozen ground, sheltered as best they could, among the bushes and
timber. We were so close that they could have reached us any time
during the night with light artillery. The gun-boats threw heavy
shells into the fort and behind the earthworks all night, keeping
the enemy awake and anxious. The heavy boom of the artillery was
followed by the squeak, squeak of Admiral Porter's little tug, as
he moved around making his arrangements for the morrow. The sounds
were ridiculous by comparison. General Sherman and staff lay on
the roots of an old oak-tree, that kept them partly clear of mud.
The cold was sharp, my right boot being frozen solid in a puddle in
the morning. About half-past two or three o'clock, General
Sherman, with another and myself, crept in as close as possible and
reconnoitred the position. The general managed to creep in much
closer than the rest of us--in fact, so close as to cause us
anxiety. The enemy worked hard all night on their abatis and
intrenchments, and in the morning we found a ditch and parapet
running clear across the point on which the post was situated.
This point was cut by a road from the back country, across which
was a heavy earthwork and a battery. This road was at the
extremity of our left. General McClernand kept his head-quarters
on his boat, the Tigress. He came up in the morning to a place in
the woods in our rear. One of his staff, a cavalry-officer,
climbed a tree to report movements; but from that point there was
very little to be seen. Between ten and eleven o'clock the fire
opened from the fleet, and we opened along the whole line from
infantry and field-guns. Our men soon worked in close enough to
keep down the fire of the enemy to a very marked degree.

After reporting to General Sherman, and while explaining the
position of the fleet, the smoke-stacks and flags appeared above
the fort. What firing was going on in our immediate front ceased.
A good many rebels were in plain sight, running away from the fort
and scattering. While we were still surprised, the cry was raised
that a white flag was hung out. I did not see it, but in a few
minutes saw others along the line, and just as the general started
for the fort I saw the flag not far from the white house, near the
parapet. Orders were given to cease firing. Captain Dayton was
sent to the fort where the first flag was raised. Some shots were
fired and some men hurt after this. The first rebel officer we
encountered was Colonel or General Garland, commanding brigade, who
was ordered to put his men in line and stack arms, which was done.
I was directed to pass along the line to the right, and cause the
prisoners to stack arms and form our men in line, just outside the
work. This I did till I reached Deshler's brigade, on our extreme
right, or nearly so, and who was opposed to the right of Steele's
force. Steele's men had rushed up to the very foot of the parapet,
and some were on it, though they did not fire. The commander of
the enemy (Deshler) refused to obey my orders to stack arms, and
asked a good many questions as to "how it happened;" said he was
not whipped, but held us in check, etc. I told him there were
eight or nine thousand men right there, that a shot from me, or a
call, would bring down on him, and that we had entire possession of
the place. After sending two officers from the nearest troops to
explain the condition to Steele, and to warn every officer they met
to pass the word for everybody to be on the sharp lookout, I
arranged with Deshler to keep quiet until I could bring his own
commander, or orders from him. Returning to General Sherman, I
found a party of young rebel officers, including Robert Johnston's
son (rebel Senate) and Captain Wolf, quartermaster, of New Orleans,
who declined to surrender except to gentlemen. Some German
Missouri soldiers didn't relish the distinction, and were about
clubbing them over the head, when I interfered and received their
surrender. Hurrying back to the general, I reported the dangerous
condition of things. He and General Churchill, commanding officer
of the enemy, started for Deshler's brigade; meeting Garland, a
quarrel and some recrimination followed between him and Churchill,
as to where the fault of the surrender belonged, which was rather
promptly silenced by General Sherman, who hurried to the scene of
trouble. There, after some ill-natured talk, Deshler ordered his
men to lay down their arms. I rode into the fort, and found the
parapet badly torn up by the fire from the fleet. On going to the
embrasure where I had seen the gun while on the river-bank talking
to Captain Shirk, the piece was found split back about eighteen
inches, and the lower half of the muzzle dropped out. A battered
but unexploded shell lying with the piece explained that it must
have struck the gun in the muzzle, almost squarely. On passing
along the inside I saw from the torn condition of the earthworks
how tremendous our fire was, and how the fire of the enemy was kept
down. The fire of the navy had partly torn down the side of the
fort next the river. A good many sailors were in the fort.
General A. J. Smith, Admiral Porter, and General Burbridge were
there--all in high spirits, but in some contention as to who got in
first. Toward dark, or nearly so, an Arkansas regiment came in as
reenforcements, but surrendered without any trouble. About the
same time General Sherman received orders to put General A. J.
Smith in charge of the fort, and stay outside with his men. As his
troops were nearly all inside, and had four-fifths of the prisoners
in charge, these orders were not very clear, and the general left
for headquarters to find out what was meant. I went on collecting
arms, and as our men were scattering a good deal and were greatly
excited, I took the precaution to pass along the line and march the
prisoners far enough from the stacked arms to be out of temptation.
I was especially urged to this by hearing several rebel officers
speak of their guns being still loaded. It was dark before all the
prisoners were collected and under guard, including the regiment
that arrived after the fight. I am confident that all the
prisoners were under guard by General Sherman's troops.

Everything being secure, the staff-officers, all of whom had been
busily engaged, scattered to compare notes and enjoy the victory.
I found my way onboard the Tigress, where every one was greatly
excited, and in high feather regarding our victory, the biggest
thing since Donelson. I also obtained some food and small comforts
for a few rebel officers, including young Johnston, Wolfe, and the
Colonel Deshler already mentioned. Then hunted up General Sherman,
whom I found sitting on a cracker-boa in the white house already
mentioned, near where the white flag first appeared. Garland was
with him, and slept with him that night, while the rest of us laid
around wherever we could. It was a gloomy, bloody house, and
suggestive of war. Garland was blamed by the other Confederate
officers for the white flag, and remained with us for safety. Next
day was very cold. We worked hard at the lists of prisoners
--nearly five thousand in number--all of whom were sent to St.
Louis, in charge of our inspector-general, Major Sanger. Our
loss was less than one hundred. The enemy, although behind
intrenchments, lost more than double what we did. Their wounded
were much worse hurt than ours, who were mostly hit around the head
and arms.

The losses were nearly all in General Sherman's wing of the army.
The loss in the fleet amounted to little, but their service was
very valuable, and deserved great credit, though they received
little. There was a good deal of sympathy between our part of the
forces and the fleet people, and I then thought, and still think,
if we had been on the left next the river, that in connection with
the tremendous fire from the navy, we could have carried the work
in an hour after we opened on it. Their missiles traversed the
whole fortification, clear through to the hospitals at the upper
end, and I stood five minutes in rifle-range of the fort next the
river--not hit, and but seldom shot at, and no one hit near me.

On the 18th we embarked, in a snow-storm; collected at Napoleon,
which seemed to be washing away; and steamed to Milliken's Bend,
were we arrived on January 21st, and soon after went to Young's
plantation, near Vicksburg.

The above statement from General Hammond was received by General
Sherman, inclosed in a letter dated "Chicago, February 5, 1876" and
signed "John H. Hammond," who was adjutant-general to General
Sherman during the winter of 1862-'83.


CINCINNATI, February 3, 1876

MY DEAR GENERAL: At Arkansas Post the troops debarked from steamer
January 9th, from one o'clock to dark, in the vicinity of Notrib's
farm, and on the 10th moved out to get position; Steele to the
right, crossing the low ground to the north, to get a higher
ground, avoid crowding the moving columns, and gain the left (our
right) and rear of the "post," and the river-bank above the post.
Stuart took the river-road the movement commencing at 11 o'clock
a.m.. After crossing the low ground covered with water, you were
called back with Steele, as Stuart had driven out the enemy's
rifle-trench pickets, this giving more and feasible room for
moving. Stuart was pushed forward, and by dark he and Steele were
well up to their expected positions. Before daylight on the 11th
you directed me to accompany you for a personal inspection of the
ground to your front, which we made on foot, going so far forward
that we could easily hear the enemy at work and moving about.
Discovering the open fields, you at once directed Steele to move to
the right and front, and pushed Stuart out so as to fully command
them and the field-work of the enemy extending from the fort, to
prevent farther strengthening, as it was evident these works were
the product of a recent thought. Stuart and Steele were prompt in
taking position, but Morgan's command (not under your control) did
not seem to work up, or keep in junction with you. At ten o'clock
you sent me to McClernand to ascertain why the delay of attack. He
attributed it to Admiral Porter, which was really unjust. The
attack began at 1 p.m., by Admiral Porter, and the sound of his
first gun had not died till your men were engaged--Wood's,
Barrett's, and the Parrott batteries and infantry. It was
lively for a time, and Stuart pushed clear up to the enemy's
rifle-trenches, and forced them to keep sheltered. Hammond was
mostly with Steele; Sanger sent to McClernand, and McCoy, myself,
and John Taylor were with you and Stuart. At about half-past three
I got your permission to go to Giles Smith's skirmish-line, and,
thinking I saw evidence of the enemy weakening, I hurried back to
you and reported my observations. I was so confident that a demand
for it would bring a surrender, that I asked permission to make it,
and, as you granted me, but refused to let another member of your
staff, at his request, go with me, I rode directly down the road
with only an orderly. Colonel Garland, commanding a brigade, was
the first officer I saw, to whom, for you, I made the demand. All
firing ceased at once, or in a few moments. I sent the orderly back
to you, and you rode forward. It was then four o'clock.

During the attack, nobody seemed to think McClernand had any clear
idea of what or how it was to be done. During the day he gave you
no directions, nor came where you were; he was well to the rear,
with his "man up a tree," who in the capacity of a lookout gave
McClernand information, from which he based such instructions as he
made to his subordinates. He was free to express himself as being
a man of "destiny," and his "star" was in the ascendance. I am,

L. M. DAYTON, late Colonel of the Staff, now of Cincinnati, Ohio.

General W. T. SHERMAN.


[Special Field Orders, No. 11.]

MEMPHIS, January 27, 1864

V. The expedition is one of celerity, and all things must tend to
that. Corps commanders and staff-officers will see that our
movements are not encumbered by wheeled vehicles improperly loaded.
Not a tent, from the commander-in-chief down, will be carried. The
sick will be left behind, and the surgeons can find houses and
sheds for all hospital purposes.

VI. All the cavalry in this department is placed under the orders
and command of Brigadier-General W. S. Smith, who will receive
special instructions.

By order of Major-General W. T. SHERMAN

L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

NOTE.-That same evening I started in a steamboat for Vicksburg.
W. T. S.
St. Louis, 1885.

MEMPHIS, January 27, 1864

Brigadier-General W. S. SMITH, commanding Cavalry, etc., present.

DEAR GENERAL: By an order issued this day I have placed all the
cavalry of this department subject to your command. I estimate you
can make a force of full seven thousand men, which I believe to be
superior and better in all respects than the combined cavalry which
the enemy has in all the State of Mississippi. I will in person
start for Vicksburg to-day, and with four divisions of infantry,
artillery, and cavalry move out for Jackson, Brandon, and Meridian,
aiming to reach the latter place by February 10th. General Banks
will feign on Pascagoula and General Logan on Rome. I want you
with your cavalry to move from Colliersville on Pontotoc and
Okolona; thence sweeping down near the Mobile & Ohio Railroad,
disable that road as much as possible, consume or destroy the
resources of the enemy along that road, break up the connection
with Columbus, Mississippi, and finally reach me at or near
Meridian as near the date I have mentioned as possible. This will
call for great energy of action on your part, but I believe you are
equal to it, and you have the best and most experienced troops in
the service, and they will do anything that is possible. General
Grierson is with you, and is familiar with the whole country. I
will send up from Haines's Bluff an expedition of gunboats and
transports combined, to feel up the Yazoo as far as the present
water will permit. This will disconcert the enemy. My movement on
Jackson will also divide the enemy, so that by no combination can
he reach you with but a part of his force. I wish you to attack
any force of cavalry you meet and follow them southward, but in no
event be drawn into the forks of the streams that make up the Yazoo
nor over into Alabama. Do not let the enemy draw you into minor
affairs, but look solely to the greater object to destroy his
communication from Okolona to Meridian, and thence eastward to
Selma. From Okolona south you will find abundance of forage
collected along the railroad, and the farmers have corn standing in
the fields. Take liberally of all these, as well as horses, mules,
cattle, etc. As a rule, respect dwellings and families as
something too sacred to be disturbed by soldiers, but mills, barns,
sheds, stables, and such like things use for the benefit or
convenience of your command. If convenient, send into Columbus,
Mississippi, and destroy all machinery there, and the bridge across
the Tombigbee, which enables the enemy to draw the resources of the
east side of the valley, but this is not of sufficient importance
to delay your movement. Try and communicate with me by scouts and
spies from the time you reach Pontotoc. Avoid any large force of
infantry, leaving them to me. We have talked over this matter so
much that the above covers all points not provided for in my
published orders of to-day. I am, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Mayor-General, commanding.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, January 27, 1864.

Brigadier-General J. P. HATCH, in charge of Cavalry Bureau, St.
Louis, Missouri.

SIR: Your favor of the 21st inst. is just received. Up to the
present time eight hundred and eighteen horses have arrived here
since Captain Hudson's visit to St. Louis. I wrote you upon his
return several days ago that it would not be necessary to divert
shipments to this point which could not reach us before February
1st. We shall certainly get off on our contemplated expedition
before that time. The number of horses estimated for in this
department by its chief quartermaster was two thousand, and this
number, including those already sent, will, I think, completely
mount all the dismounted cavalry of this department. Recruits for
cavalry regiments are arriving freely, and this will swell our
requisitions for a couple of months to come. I will as far as
possible procure horses from the regions of country traversed by
our cavalry.

Yours truly, W. SOOY SMITH, Brigadier-General,

Chief of Cavalry, Military Division of the Mississippi.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, January 28, 1864

Brigadier-General GEORGE CROOK, commanding Second Cavalry Division,
Huntsville, Alabama.

I start in about three days with seven, thousand men to Meridian
via Pontotoc. Demonstrate on Decatur, to hold Roddy.

W. SOOY SMITH, Brigadier-General,
Chief of Cavalry, Military Division of the Mississippi.

General W. T. SHERMAN, Commander-in-Chief, United States Army.

SIR: Your letter of July 7th is just received.

Your entire statement in the "Memoirs" concerning my part in the
Meridian campaign is incorrect.

You overstate my strength, placing it at seven thousand effective,
when it was but six. The nominal strength of my command was seven

You understate the strength of my enemy, putting Forrest's force at
four thousand. On our return to Nashville, you stated it, in
General Grant's presence, to have been but twenty-five hundred.
Before and during my movement I positively knew Forrest's strength
to be full six thousand, and he has since told me so himself.

Instead of delaying from the 1st to the 11th of February for "some
regiment that was ice-bound near Columbus, Kentucky," it was an
entire brigade, Colonel Waring's, without which your orders to me
were peremptory not to move. I asked you if I should wait its
arrival, and you answered: "Certainly; if you go without it, you
will be, too weak, and I want you strong enough to go where you

The time set for our arrival at Meridian, the 10th of February, had
arrived before it was possible for me, under your orders, to move
from Memphis, and I would have been entirely justifiable if I had
not started at all. But I was at that time, and at all times
during the war, as earnest and anxious to carry out my orders, and
do my full duty as you or any other officer could be, and I set out
to make a march of two hundred and fifty miles into the
Confederacy, having to drive back a rebel force equal to my own.
After the time had arrived for the full completion of my movement,
I drove this force before me, and penetrated one hundred and sixty
miles into the Confederacy--did more hard fighting, and killed,
wounded, and captured more of the enemy than you did during the
campaign--did my work most thoroughly, as far as I could go without
encountering the rebel cavalry set loose by your return from
Meridian, and brought off my command, with all the captured
property and rescued negroes, with very small loss, considering
that inflicted on the enemy, and the long-continued and very severe
fighting. If I had disobeyed your orders, and started without
Waring's brigade, I would have been "too weak," would probably have
been defeated, and would have been subjected to just censure.
Having awaited its arrival, as I was positively and distinctly
ordered to do, it only remained for me to start upon its arrival,
and accomplish all that I could of the work allotted to me. To
have attempted to penetrate farther into the enemy's country, with
the cavalry of Polk's army coming up to reenforce Forrest, would
have insured the destruction of my entire command, situated as it
was. I cannot now go into all the particulars, though I assure you
that they make the proof of the correctness of my conduct as
conclusive as I could desire it to be. I was not headed off and
defeated by an inferior force near West Point. We had the fighting
all our own way near West Point, and at all other points except at
Okalona, on our return, when we had the worst of it for a little
while, but finally checked the enemy handsomely, and continued our
return march, fighting at the rear and on both flanks, repulsing
all attacks and moving in perfect order. And so my movement was
not a failure, except that I did not reach Meridian as intended,
for the reason stated, and for many more which it is not necessary
for me to detail here. On the other hand, it was a very decided
success, inflicting a terrible destruction of supplies of every
kind, and a heavy loss of men upon the enemy. You should have so
reported it in the beginning. You should so amend your report, and
"Memoirs" now. This, and no less than this, is due from one
soldier to another. It is due to the exalted position which you
occupy, and, above all, it is due to that truthfulness in history
which you claim to revere. If you desire it, I will endeavor to
visit you, and in a friendly manner "fight our battles o'er again,"
and endeavor to convince you that you have always been mistaken as
to the manner in which my part in the "Meridian campaign" was
performed. But I will never rest until the wrong statements
regarding it are fully and fairly corrected. Yours truly,


St. Louis, Missouri, July 11, 1875.

General J. D. WEBSTER, Chicago, Illinois

DEAR GENERAL: General W. Sooy Smith feels aggrieved and wronged by
my account of his part in the Meridian campaign, in my "Memoirs,"
pages 394, 395, and properly appeals to me for correction. I have
offered to modify any words or form of expression that he may point
out, but he asks me to completely change the whole that concerns
him. This, of course, I will not do, as his part was material to
the whole, and cannot be omitted or materially altered without
changing the remainder, for his failure to reach Meridian by
February 10th was the reason for other movements distant from him.
I now offer him, what seems to me fair and liberal, that we submit
the points at issue to you as arbitrator. You are familiar with
the ground, the coincident history, and most, if not all, the

I propose to supply you with

1. Copy of my orders placing all the cavalry under General Smith's
orders (with returns).

2. My letter of instructions to him of January 27th.

3. My official report of the campaign, dated Vicksburg, March 7,

4. General W. Sooy Smith's report of his operations, dated
Nashville, Tennessee, March 4, 1864.

After reading these, I further propose that you address us
questions which we will answer in writing, when you are to make us
a concise, written decision, which I will have published in close
connection with the subject in controversy. If General Smith will
show you my letter to him of this date, and also deliver this with
his written assent, I will promptly furnish you the above
documents, and also procure from the official files a return of the
cavalry force available at and near Memphis on the date of my
orders, viz., January 27, 1864.

With great respect, your friend and servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, General.

NOTE:--General Smith never submitted his case to the arbitration
offered. The whole will be made clear by the publication of the
official records, which are already in print, though not yet
issued. His orders were in writing, and I have no recollection of
the "peremptory" verbal orders to which he refers, and quotes as
from me.

ST. Louis, Missouri, 1895. W. T. S.

MAYWOOD, ILLINOIS, July 14, 1875.

General W. T. SHERMAN, Commander-in-Chief, etc.

DEAR GENERAL: Your letter of the 11th of July reaches me just as I
am starting to spend the first vacation I have ever allowed myself
--in the Territories, with my wife and son.

It indicates a spirit of fairness from which we have better things
than an arbitration to hope for. Though, if we should reach such a
necessity, there is no one living to whom our differences might
more properly be referred than to General Webster. I make no
objection to your writing your "Memoirs," and, as long as they
refer to your own conduct, you are at liberty to write them as you
like; but, when they refer to mine, and deal unjustly with my
reputation, I, of right, object.

Neither do I wish to write my "Memoirs," unless compelled to do so
to vindicate my good name. There were certain commands which were
to make up mine. These, Waring's brigade included, were spoken of
by us in the long conversation to which you refer. This brigade we
knew was having a hard time of it in its movement from Columbus to
Memphis. I asked you if I should move without it if it did not
arrive, and you answered me as stated in my last letter to you.
Those who immediately surrounded me during the painful delay that
occurred will inform you how sorely I chafed under the restraint of
that peremptory order.

In the conversation that occurred between us at Nashville, while
all the orders, written and verbal, were still fresh in your
memory, you did not censure me for waiting for Waring, but for
allowing myself to be encumbered with fugitive negroes to such an
extent that my command was measurably unfit for active movement or
easy handling, and for turning back from West Point, instead of
pressing on toward Meridian. Invitations had been industriously
circulated, by printed circulars and otherwise, to the negroes to
come into our lines, and to seek our protection wherever they could
find it, and I considered ourselves pledged to receive and protect
them. Your censure for so doing, and your remarks on that subject
to me in Nashville, are still fresh in my memory, and of a
character which you would now doubtless gladly disavow.

But we must meet and talk the whole matter over, and I will be at
any trouble to see you when I return.

Meantime I will not let go the hope that I will convince you
absolutely of your error, for the facts are entirely on my side.
Yours truly,



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