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 point.
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 showing.
Fourth. When the owner has gone south, and parties here hold liens on the property and are collecting the rents to satisfy their liens?
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 unoccupied?
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.,
W. T. SHERMAN.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION 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.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION 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 days.
I am, with great respect, yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 21, 1862
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 furnished.
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.
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, dated:
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
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 follows:
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:
HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, 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 dictate.
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 Memphis.
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:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE 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, Ordnance.
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:
HEADQUARTERS RIGHT WING, THIRTEENTH ARMY Corps FOREST QUEEN, December 23, 1882.
To Commanders of Divisions, Generals F. STEELE, GEORGE W. MORGAN, A.J. SMITH, and M. L. SMITH
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 division.
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 bayou.
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 Mississippi.
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 movements.
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.
JANUARY TO JULY, 1888.
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 Grant:
MILLIKEN'S BEND, March 16, 1863
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 required.
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:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE 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.
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 fleet: