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Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

MILLIKEN'S BEND, March 16, 1863

General SHERMAN.

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

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

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

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

Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

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

BEFORE VICKSBURG, March 16, 1863

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

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

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

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

March 28, 1863

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preliminary orders had already been given, looking to the digging
of a canal, to connect the river at Duckport with Willow Bayou,
back of Milliken's Bend, so as to form a channel for the conveyance
of supplies, by way of Richmond, to New Carthage; and several steam
dredge-boats had come from the upper rivers to assist in the work.
One day early in April, I was up at General Grant's headquarters,
and we talked over all these things with absolute freedom. Charles
A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, was there, and Wilson,
Rawlins, Frank Blair, McPherson, etc. We all knew, what was
notorious, that General McClernand was still intriguing against
General Grant, in hopes to regain the command of the whole
expedition, and that others were raising a clamor against General
Grant in the news papers at the North. Even Mr. Lincoln and
General Halleck seemed to be shaken; but at no instant of time did
we (his personal friends) slacken in our loyalty to him. One
night, after such a discussion, and believing that General
McClernand had no real plan of action shaped in his mind, I wrote
my letter of April 8, 1863, to Colonel Rawlins, which letter is
embraced in full at page 616 of Badeau's book, and which I now
reproduce here:


Colonel J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General to General GRANT.

SIR: I would most respectfully suggest (for reasons which I will
not name) that General Grant call on his corps commanders for their
opinions, concise and positive, on the best general plan of a
campaign. Unless this be done, there are men who will, in any
result falling below the popular standard, claim that their advice
was unheeded, and that fatal consequence resulted therefrom. My
own opinions are:

First. That the Army of the Tennessee is now far in advance of the
other grand armies of the United States.

Second. That a corps from Missouri should forthwith be moved from
St. Louis to the vicinity of Little Rock, Arkansas; supplies
collected there while the river is full, and land communication
with Memphis opened via Des Arc on the White, and Madison on the
St. Francis River.

Third. That as much of the Yazoo Pass, Coldwater, and Tallahatchie
Rivers, as can be gained and fortified, be held, and the main army
be transported thither by land and water; that the road back to
Memphis be secured and reopened, and, as soon as the waters
subside, Grenada be attacked, and the swamp-road across to Helena
be patrolled by cavalry.

Fourth. That the line of the Yalabusha be the base from which to
operate against the points where the Mississippi Central crosses
Big Black, above Canton; and, lastly, where the Vicksburg & Jackson
Railroad crosses the same river (Big Black). The capture of
Vicksburg would result.

Fifth. That a minor force be left in this vicinity, not to exceed
ten thousand men, with only enough steamboats to float and
transport them to any desired point; this force to be held always
near enough to act with the gunboats when the main army is known to
be near Vicksburg--Haines's Bluff or Yazoo City.

Sixth. I do doubt the capacity of Willow Bayou (which I estimate
to be fifty miles long and very tortuous) as a military channel, to
supply an army large enough to operate against Jackson,
Mississippi, or the Black River Bridge; and such a channel will be
very vulnerable to a force coming from the west, which we must
expect. Yet this canal will be most useful as the way to convey
coals and supplies to a fleet that should navigate the lower reach
of the Mississippi between Vicksburg and the Red River.

Seventh. The chief reason for operating solely by water was the
season of the year and high water in the Tallahatchie and Yalabusha
Rivers. The spring is now here, and soon these streams will be no
serious obstacle, save in the ambuscades of the forest, and
whatever works the enemy may have erected at or near Grenada.
North Mississippi is too valuable for us to allow the enemy to hold
it and make crops this year.

I make these suggestions, with the request that General Grant will
read them and give them, as I know he will, a share of his
thoughts. I would prefer that he should not answer this letter,
but merely give it as much or as little weight as it deserves.
Whatever plan of action he may adopt will receive from me the same
zealous cooperation and energetic support as though conceived by
myself. I do not believe General Banks will make any serious
attack on Port Hudson this spring. I am, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

This is the letter which some critics have styled a "protest." We
never had a council of war at any time during the Vicksburg
campaign. We often met casually, regardless of rank or power, and
talked and gossiped of things in general, as officers do and
should. But my letter speaks for itself--it shows my opinions
clearly at that stage of the game, and was meant partially to
induce General Grant to call on General McClernand for a similar
expression of opinion, but, so far as I know, he did not. He went
on quietly to work out his own designs; and he has told me, since
the war, that had we possessed in December, 1862, the experience of
marching and maintaining armies without a regular base, which we
afterward acquired, he would have gone on from Oxford as first
contemplated, and would not have turned back because of the
destruction of his depot at Holly Springs by Van Dorn. The
distance from Oxford to the rear of Vicksburg is little greater
than by the circuitous route we afterward followed, from Bruinsburg
to Jackson and Vicksburg, during which we had neither depot nor
train of supplies. I have never criticised General Grant's
strategy on this or any other occasion, but I thought then that
he had lost an opportunity, which cost him and us six months'
extra-hard work, for we might have captured Vicksburg from the
direction of Oxford in January, quite as easily as was afterward
done in July, 1863.

General Grant's orders for the general movement past Vicksburg, by
Richmond and Carthage, were dated April 20, 1863. McClernand was
to lead off with his corps, McPherson next, and my corps (the
Fifteenth) to bring up the rear. Preliminary thereto, on the night
of April 16th, seven iron-clads led by Admiral Porter in person, in
the Benton, with three transports, and ten barges in tow, ran the
Vicksburg batteries by night. Anticipating a scene, I had four
yawl-boats hauled across the swamp, to the reach of the river below
Vicksburg, and manned them with soldiers, ready to pick up any of
the disabled wrecks as they floated by. I was out in the stream
when the fleet passed Vicksburg, and the scene was truly sublime.
As soon as the rebel gunners detected the Benton, which was in the
lead, they opened on her, and on the others in succession, with
shot and shell; houses on the Vicksburg side and on the opposite
shore were set on fire, which lighted up the whole river; and the
roar of cannon, the bursting of shells, and finally the burning of
the Henry Clay, drifting with the current, made up a picture of the
terrible not often seen. Each gunboat returned the fire as she
passed the town, while the transports hugged the opposite shore.
When the Benton had got abreast of us, I pulled off to her,
boarded, had a few words with Admiral Porter, and as she was
drifting rapidly toward the lower batteries at Warrenton, I left,
and pulled back toward the shore, meeting the gunboat Tuscumbia
towing the transport Forest Queen into the bank out of the range of
fire. The Forest Queen, Captain Conway, had been my flag-boat up
the Arkansas, and for some time after, and I was very friendly with
her officers. This was the only transport whose captain would not
receive volunteers as a crew, but her own officers and crew stuck
to their boat, and carried her safely below the Vicksburg
batteries, and afterward rendered splendid service in ferrying
troops across the river at Grand Gulf and Bruinsburg. In passing
Vicksburg, she was damaged in the hull and had a steam-pipe cut
away, but this was soon repaired. The Henry Clay was set on fire
by bursting shells, and burned up; one of my yawls picked up her
pilot floating on a piece of wreck, and the bulk of her crew
escaped in their own yawl-boat to the shore above. The Silver
Wave, Captain McMillan, the same that was with us up Steele's
Bayou, passed safely, and she also rendered good service afterward.

Subsequently, on the night of April 26th, six other transports with
numerous barges loaded with hay, corn, freight, and provisions,
were drifted past Vicksburg; of these the Tigress was hit, and sunk
just as she reached the river-bank below, on our side: I was there
with my yawls, and saw Colonel Lagow, of General Grant's staff, who
had passed the batteries in the Tigress, and I think he was
satisfied never to attempt such a thing again. Thus General
Grant's army had below Vicksburg an abundance of stores, and boats
with which to cross the river. The road by which the troops
marched was very bad, and it was not until the 1st of May that it
was clear for my corps. While waiting my turn to march, I received
a letter from General Grant, written at Carthage, saying that he
proposed to cross over and attack Grand Gulf, about the end of
April, and he thought I could put in my time usefully by making a
"feint" on Haines's Bluff, but he did not like to order me to do
it, because it might be reported at the North that I had again been
"repulsed, etc." Thus we had to fight a senseless clamor at the
North, as well as a determined foe and the obstacles of Nature. Of
course, I answered him that I would make the "feint," regardless of
public clamor at a distance, and I did make it most effectually;
using all the old boats I could get about Milliken's Bend and the
mouth of the Yazoo, but taking only ten small regiments, selected
out of Blair's division, to make a show of force. We afterward
learned that General Pemberton in Vicksburg had previously
dispatched a large force to the assistance of General Bowers, at
Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, which force had proceeded as far as
Hankinson's Ferry, when he discovered our ostentatious movement up
the Yazoo, recalled his men, and sent them up to Haines's Bluff to
meet us. This detachment of rebel troops must have marched nearly
sixty miles without rest, for afterward, on reaching Vicksburg, I
heard that the men were perfectly exhausted, and lay along the road
in groups, completely fagged out. This diversion, made with so
much pomp and display, therefore completely fulfilled its purpose,
by leaving General Grant to contend with a minor force, on landing
at Bruinsburg, and afterward at Port Gibson and Grand Gulf.

In May the waters of the Mississippi had so far subsided that all
our canals were useless, and the roads had become practicable.
After McPherson's corps had passed Richmond, I took up the route of
march, with Steele's and Tuttle's divisions. Blair's division
remained at Milliken's Bend to protect our depots there, till
relieved by troops from Memphis, and then he was ordered to follow
us. Our route lay by Richmond and Roundabout Bayou; then,
following Bayou Vidal we struck the Mississippi at Perkins's
plantation. Thence the route followed Lake St. Joseph to a
plantation called Hard Times, about five miles above Grand Gulf.
The road was more or less occupied by wagons and detachments
belonging to McPherson's corps; still we marched rapidly and
reached Hard Times on the 6th of May. Along the Bayou or Lake St.
Joseph were many very fine cotton plantations, and I recall that of
a Mr. Bowie, brother-in-law of the Hon. Reverdy Johnson, of
Baltimore. The house was very handsome, with a fine, extensive
grass-plot in front. We entered the yard, and, leaving our horses
with the headquarters escort, walked to the house. On the
front-porch I found a magnificent grand-piano, with several
satin-covered arm-chairs, in one of which sat a Union soldier (one
of McPherson's men), with his feet on the keys of the piano, and
his musket and knapsack lying on the porch. I asked him what he
was doing there, and he answered that he was "taking a rest;" this
was manifest and I started him in a hurry, to overtake his command.
The house was tenantless, and had been completely ransacked;
articles of dress and books were strewed about, and a handsome
boudoir with mirror front had been cast down, striking a French
bedstead, shivering the glass. The library was extensive, with a
fine collection of books; and hanging on the wall were two
full-length portraits of Reverdy Johnson and his wife, one of the
most beautiful ladies of our country, with whom I had been
acquainted in Washington at the time of General Taylor's
administration. Behind the mansion was the usual double row of
cabins called the "quarters." There I found an old negro (a family
servant) with several women, whom I sent to the house to put things
in order; telling the old man that other troops would follow, and
he must stand on the porch to tell any officers who came along that
the property belonged to Mr. Bowie, who was the brother-in-law of
our friend Mr. Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore, asking them to see
that no further harm was done. Soon after we left the house I saw
some negroes carrying away furniture which manifestly belonged to
the house, and compelled them to carry it back; and after reaching
camp that night, at Hard Times, I sent a wagon back to Bowie's
plantation, to bring up to Dr. Hollingsworth's house the two
portraits for safe keeping; but before the wagon had reached
Bowie's the house was burned, whether by some of our men or by
negroes I have never learned.

At the river there was a good deal of scrambling to get across,
because the means of ferriage were inadequate; but by the aid of
the Forest Queen and several gunboats I got my command across
during the 7th of May, and marched out to Hankiuson's Ferry
(eighteen miles), relieving General Crocker's division of
McPherson's corps. McClernand's corps and McPherson's were still
ahead, and had fought the battle of Port Gibson, on the 11th. I
overtook General Grant in person at Auburn, and he accompanied my
corps all the way into Jackson, which we reached May 14th.
McClernand's corps had been left in observation toward Edwards's
Ferry. McPherson had fought at Raymond, and taken the left-hand
road toward Jackson, via Clinton, while my troops were ordered by
General Grant in person to take the right-hand road leading through
Mississippi Springs. We reached Jackson at the same time;
McPherson fighting on the Clinton road, and my troops fighting just
outside the town, on the Raymond road, where we captured three
entire field-batteries, and about two hundred prisoners of war.
The rebels, under General Joe Johnston, had retreated through the
town northward on the Canton road. Generals Grant, McPherson, and
I, met in the large hotel facing the State-House, where the former
explained to us that he had intercepted dispatches from Pemberton
to Johnston, which made it important for us to work smart to
prevent a junction of their respective forces. McPherson was
ordered to march back early the next day on the Clinton road to
make junction with McClernand, and I was ordered to remain one day
to break up railroads, to destroy the arsenal, a foundery, the
cotton-factory of the Messrs. Green, etc., etc., and then to
follow McPherson.

McPherson left Jackson early on the 15th, and General Grant during
the same day. I kept my troops busy in tearing up railroad-tracks,
etc., but early on the morning of the 16th received notice from
General Grant that a battle was imminent near Edwards's Depot; that
he wanted me to dispatch one of my divisions immediately, and to
follow with the other as soon as I had completed the work of
destruction. Steele's division started immediately, and later in
the day I followed with the other division (Tuttle's). Just as I
was leaving Jackson, a very fat man came to see me, to inquire if
his hotel, a large, frame building near the depot, were doomed to
be burned. I told him we had no intention to burn it, or any other
house, except the machine-shops, and such buildings as could easily
be converted to hostile uses. He professed to be a law-abiding
Union man, and I remember to have said that this fact was manifest
from the sign of his hotel, which was the "Confederate Hotel;" the
sign "United States" being faintly painted out, and "Confederate"
painted over it! I remembered that hotel, as it was the
supper-station for the New Orleans trains when I used to travel the
road before the war. I had not the least purpose, however, of
burning it, but, just as we were leaving the town, it burst out in
flames and was burned to the ground. I never found out exactly who
set it on fire, but was told that in one of our batteries were some
officers and men who had been made prisoners at Shiloh, with
Prentiss's division, and had been carried past Jackson in a
railroad-train; they had been permitted by the guard to go to this
very hotel for supper, and had nothing to pay but greenbacks, which
were refused, with insult, by this same law-abiding landlord.
These men, it was said, had quietly and stealthily applied the fire
underneath the hotel just as we were leaving the town.

About dark we met General Grant's staff-officer near Bolton
Station, who turned us to the right, with orders to push on to
Vicksburg by what was known as the upper Jackson Road, which
crossed the Big Black at Bridgeport. During that day (May 16th)
the battle of Champion Hills had been fought and won by
McClernand's and McPherson's corps, aided by one division of mine
(Blairs), under the immediate command of General Grant; and
McPherson was then following the mass of Pemberton's army,
disordered and retreating toward Vicksburg by the Edwards's Ferry
road. General Blair's division had come up from the rear, was
temporarily attached to McClernand's corps, taking part with it in
the battle of Champion Hills, but on the 17th it was ordered by
General Grant across to Bridgeport, to join me there.

Just beyond Bolton there was a small hewn-log house, standing back
in a yard, in which was a well; at this some of our soldiers were
drawing water. I rode in to get a drink, and, seeing a book on the
ground, asked some soldier to hand it to me. It was a volume of
the Constitution of the United States, and on the title-page was
written the name of Jefferson Davis. On inquiry of a negro, I
learned that the place belonged to the then President of the
Southern Confederation. His brother Joe Davis's plantation was not
far off; one of my staff-officers went there, with a few soldiers,
and took a pair of carriage-horses, without my knowledge at the
time. He found Joe Davis at home, an old man, attended by a young
and affectionate niece; but they were overwhelmed with grief to see
their country overran and swarming with Federal troops.

We pushed on, and reached the Big Black early, Blair's
troops having preceded us by an hour or so. I found General
Blair in person, and he reported that there was no bridge across
the Big Black; that it was swimming-deep; and that there was
a rebel force on the opposite side, intrenched. He had ordered
a detachment of the Thirteenth United States Regulars, under
Captain Charles Ewing, to strip some artillery-horses, mount the
men, and swim the river above the ferry, to attack and drive
away the party on the opposite bank. I did not approve of this
risky attempt, but crept down close to the brink of the
river-bank, behind a corn-crib belonging to a plantation house near
by, and saw the parapet on the opposite bank. Ordering a section of
guns to be brought forward by hand behind this corn-crib, a few
well-directed shells brought out of their holes the little party
that was covering the crossing, viz., a lieutenant and ten men, who
came down to the river-bank and surrendered. Blair's pon-toon-train
was brought up, consisting of India-rubber boats, one of which was
inflated, used as a boat, and brought over the prisoners. A
pontoon-bridge was at once begun, finished by night, and the troops
began the passage. After dark, the whole scene was lit up with
fires of pitch-pine. General Grant joined me there, and we sat on a
log, looking at the passage of the troops by the light of those
fires; the bridge swayed to and fro under the passing feet, and made
a fine war-picture. At daybreak we moved on, ascending the ridge,
and by 10 a.m. the head of my column, long drawn out, reached the
Benton road, and gave us command of the peninsula between the Yazoo
and Big Black. I dispatched Colonel Swan, of the Fourth Iowa
Cavalry, to Haines's Bluff, to capture that battery from the rear,
and he afterward reported that he found it abandoned, its garrison
having hastily retreated into Vicksburg, leaving their guns
partially disabled, a magazine full of ammunition, and a hospital
full of wounded and sick men. Colonel Swan saw one of our gunboats
lying about two miles below in the Yazoo, to which he signaled. She
steamed up, and to its commander the cavalry turned over the battery
at Haines's Bluff, and rejoined me in front of Vicksburg. Allowing
a couple of hours for rest and to close up the column, I resumed the
march straight on Vicksburg. About two miles before reaching the
forts, the road forked; the left was the main Jackson road, and the
right was the "graveyard" road, which entered Vicksburg near a large
cemetery. General Grant in person directed me to take the
right-hand road, but, as McPherson had not yet got up from the
direction of the railroad-bridge at Big Black, I sent the Eighth
Missouri on the main Jackson road, to push the rebel skirmishers
into town, and to remain until relieved by McPherson's advance,
which happened late that evening, May 18th. The battalion of the
Thirteenth United States Regulars, commanded by Captain Washington,
was at the head of the column on the right-hand road, and pushed the
rebels close behind their parapets; one of my staff, Captain
Pitzman, receiving a dangerous wound in the hip, which apparently
disabled him for life. By night Blair's whole division had closed up
against the defenses of Vicksburg, which were found to be strong and
well manned; and, on General Steele's head of column arriving, I
turned it still more to the right, with orders to work its way down
the bluff, so as to make connection with our fleet in the
Mississippi River. There was a good deal of desultory fighting that
evening, and a man was killed by the aide of General Grant and
myself, as we sat by the road-side looking at Steele's division
passing to the right. General Steele's men reached the road which
led from Vicksburg up to Haines's Bluff, which road lay at the foot
of the hills, and intercepted some prisoners and wagons which were
coming down from Haines's Bluff.

All that night McPherson's troops were arriving by the main Jackson
road, and McClernand'a by another near the railroad, deploying
forward as fast as they struck the rebel works. My corps (the
Fifteenth) had the right of the line of investment; McPherson's
(the Seventeenth) the centre; and McClernand's (the Thirteenth) the
left, reaching from the river above to the railroad below. Our
lines connected, and invested about three-quarters of the
land-front of the fortifications of Vicksburg. On the supposition
that the garrison of Vicksburg was demoralized by the defeats at
Champion Hills and at the railroad crossing of the Big Black,
General Grant ordered an assault at our respective fronts on the
19th. My troops reached the top of the parapet, but could not
cross over. The rebel parapets were strongly manned, and the enemy
fought hard and well. My loss was pretty heavy, falling chiefly on
the Thirteenth Regulars, whose commanding officer, Captain
Washington, was killed, and several other regiments were pretty
badly cut up. We, however, held the ground up to the ditch till
night, and then drew back only a short distance, and began to
counter-trench. On the graveyard road, our parapet was within less
than fifty yards of the rebel ditch.

On the 20th of May, General Grant called the three corps commanders
together, viz., McClernand, McPherson, and Sherman. We compared
notes, and agreed that the assault of the day before had failed, by
reason of the natural strength of the position, and because we were
forced by the nature of the ground to limit our attacks to the
strongest parts of the enemy's line, viz., where the three
principal roads entered the city.

It was not a council of war, but a mere consultation, resulting in
orders from General Grant for us to make all possible preparations
for a renewed assault on the 22d, simultaneously, at 10 a.m. I
reconnoitred my front thoroughly in person, from right to left, and
concluded to make my real attack at the right flank of the bastion,
where the graveyard road entered the enemy's intrenchments, and at
another point in the curtain about a hundred yards to its right
(our left); also to make a strong demonstration by Steele's
division, about a mile to our right, toward the river. All our
field batteries were put in position, and were covered by good
epaulements; the troops were brought forward, in easy support,
concealed by the shape of the ground; and to the: minute, viz.,
10 a.m. of May 22d, the troops sprang to the assault. A small
party, that might be called a forlorn hope, provided with plank to
cross the ditch, advanced at a run, up to the very ditch; the lines
of infantry sprang from cover, and advanced rapidly in line of
battle. I took a position within two hundred yards of the rebel
parapet, on the off slope of a spur of ground, where by advancing
two or three steps I could see every thing. The rebel line,
concealed by the parapet, showed no sign of unusual activity, but
as our troops came in fair view, the enemy rose behind their
parapet and poured a furious fire upon our lines; and, for about
two hours, we had a severe and bloody battle, but at every point we
were repulsed. In the very midst of this, when shell and shot fell
furious and fast, occurred that little episode which has been
celebrated in song and story, of the boy Orion P. Howe, badly
wounded, bearing me a message for cartridges, calibre 54,
described in my letter to the Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
This boy was afterward appointed a cadet to the United States Naval
Academy, at Annapolis, but he could not graduate, and I do not now
know what has become of him.

After our men had been fairly beaten back from off the parapet, and
had got cover behind the spurs of ground close up to the rebel
works, General Grant came to where I was, on foot, having left his
horse some distance to the rear. I pointed out to him the rebel
works, admitted that my assault had failed, and he said the result
with McPherson and McClernand was about the same. While he was
with me, an orderly or staff-officer came and handed him a piece of
paper, which he read and handed to me. I think the writing was in
pencil, on a loose piece of paper, and was in General McClernand's
handwriting, to the effect that "his troops had captured the rebel
parapet in his front," that, "the flag of the Union waved over the
stronghold of Vicksburg," and asking him (General Grant) to give
renewed orders to McPherson and Sherman to press their attacks on
their respective fronts, lest the enemy should concentrate on him
(McClernand). General Grant said, "I don't believe a word of it;"
but I reasoned with him, that this note was official, and must be
credited, and I offered to renew the assault at once with new
troops. He said he would instantly ride down the line to
McClernand's front, and if I did not receive orders to the
contrary, by 3 o'clock p.m., I might try it again. Mower's fresh
brigade was brought up under cover, and some changes were made in
Giles Smith's brigade; and, punctually at 3 p.m., hearing heavy
firing down along the line to my left, I ordered the second
assault. It was a repetition of the first, equally unsuccessful
and bloody. It also transpired that the same thing had occurred
with General McPherson, who lost in this second assault some most
valuable officers and men, without adequate result; and that
General McClernand, instead of having taken any single point of the
rebel main parapet, had only taken one or two small outlying
lunettes open to the rear, where his men were at the mercy of the
rebels behind their main parapet, and most of them were actually
thus captured. This affair caused great feeling with us, and
severe criticisms on General McClernand, which led finally to his
removal from the command of the Thirteenth Corps, to which
General Ord succeeded. The immediate cause, however, of
General McClernand's removal was the publication of a sort of
congratulatory order addressed to his troops, first published in
St. Louis, in which he claimed that he had actually succeeded in
making a lodgment in Vicksburg, but had lost it, owing to the fact
that McPherson and Sherman did not fulfill their parts of the
general plan of attack. This was simply untrue. The two several
assaults made May 22d, on the lines of Vicksburg, had failed, by
reason of the great strength of the position and the determined
fighting of its garrison. I have since seen the position at
Sevastopol, and without hesitation I declare that at Vicksburg to
have been the more difficult of the two.

Thereafter our proceedings were all in the nature of a siege.
General Grant drew more troops from Memphis, to prolong our general
line to the left, so as completely to invest the place on its
land-side, while the navy held the river both above and below.
General Mower's brigade of Tuttle's division was also sent across
the river to the peninsula, so that by May 31st Vicksburg was
completely beleaguered. Good roads were constructed from our camps
to the several landing-places on the Yazoo River, to which points
our boats brought us ample supplies; so that we were in a splendid
condition for a siege, while our enemy was shut up in a close fort,
with a large civil population of men, women, and children to feed,
in addition to his combatant force. If we could prevent sallies,
or relief from the outside, the fate of the garrison of Vicksburg
was merely a question of time.

I had my headquarters camp close up to the works, near the centre
of my corps, and General Grant had his bivouac behind a ravine to
my rear. We estimated Pemberton's whole force in Vicksburg at
thirty thousand men, and it was well known that the rebel General
Joseph E. Johnston was engaged in collecting another strong force
near the Big Black, with the intention to attack our rear, and thus
to afford Pemberton an opportunity to escape with his men. Even
then the ability of General Johnston was recognized, and General
Grant told me that he was about the only general on that side whom
he feared. Each corps kept strong pickets well to the rear; but,
as the rumors of Johnston's accumulating force reached us, General
Grant concluded to take stronger measures. He had received from
the North General J. G. Parker's corps (Ninth), which had been
posted at Haines's Bluff; then, detailing one division from each of
the three corps d'armee investing Vicksburg, he ordered me to go
out, take a general command of all, and to counteract any movement
on the part of General Johnston to relieve Vicksburg. I
reconnoitred the whole country, from Haines's Bluff to the railroad
bridge, and posted the troops thus:

Parke's two divisions from Haines's Bluff out to the Benton or
ridge road; Tuttle's division, of my corps, joining on and
extending to a plantation called Young's, overlooking Bear Creek
valley, which empties into the Big Black above Messinger's Ferry;
then McArthurs division, of McPherson's corps, took up the line,
and reached to Osterhaus's division of McClernand's corps, which
held a strong fortified position at the railroad-crossing of the
Big Black River. I was of opinion that, if Johnston should cross
the Big Black, he could by the favorable nature of the country be
held in check till a concentration could be effected by us at the
point threatened. From the best information we could gather,
General Johnston had about thirty or forty thousand men. I took
post near a plantation of one Trible, near Markham's, and
frequently reconnoitred the whole line, and could see the enemy
engaged in like manner, on the east aide of Big Black; but he never
attempted actually to cross over, except with some cavalry, just
above Bear Creek, which was easily driven back. I was there from
June 20th to the 4th of July. In a small log-house near Markham's
was the family of Mr. Klein, whose wife was the daughter of Mrs.
Day, of New Orleans, who in turn was the sister of Judge T. W.
Bartley, my brother-in-law. I used frequently to drop in and take
a meal with them, and Mrs. Klein was generally known as the
general's cousin, which doubtless saved her and her family from
molestation, too common on the part of our men.

One day, as I was riding the line near a farm known as Parson
Fog's, I heard that the family of a Mr. Wilkinson, of New Orleans,
was "refugeeing" at a house near by. I rode up, inquired, and
found two young girls of that name, who said they were the children
of General Wilkinson, of Louisiana, and that their brother had been
at the Military School at Alexandria. Inquiring for their mother,
I was told she was spending the day at Parson Fox's. As this house
was on my route, I rode there, went through a large gate into the
yard, followed by my staff and escort, and found quite a number of
ladies sitting on the porch. I rode up and inquired if that were
Parson Fox's. The parson, a fine-looking, venerable old man, rose,
and said that he was Parson Fox. I then inquired for Mrs.
Wilkinson, when an elderly lady answered that she was the person.
I asked her if she were from Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana, and she
said she was. I then inquired if she had a son who had been a
cadet at Alexandria when General Sherman was superintendent, and
she answered yes. I then announced myself, inquired after the boy,
and she said he was inside of Vicksburg, an artillery lieutenant.
I then asked about her husband, whom I had known, when she burst
into tears, and cried out in agony, "You killed him at Bull Run,
where he was fighting for his country!" I disclaimed killing
anybody at Bull Run; but all the women present (nearly a dozen)
burst into loud lamentations, which made it most uncomfortable for
me, and I rode away. On the 3d of July, as I sat at my bivouac by
the road-side near Trible's, I saw a poor, miserable horse,
carrying a lady, and led by a little negro boy, coming across a
cotton-field toward me; as they approached I recognized poor Mrs.
Wilkinson, and helped her to dismount. I inquired what had brought
her to me in that style, and she answered that she knew Vicksburg,
was going to surrender, and she wanted to go right away to see her
boy. I had a telegraph-wire to General Grant's headquarters, and
had heard that there were symptoms of surrender, but as yet nothing
definite. I tried to console and dissuade her, but she was
resolved, and I could not help giving her a letter to General
Grant, explaining to him who she was, and asking him to give her
the earliest opportunity to see her son. The distance was fully
twenty miles, but off she started, and I afterward learned that my
letter had enabled her to see her son, who had escaped unharmed.
Later in the day I got by telegraph General Grant's notice of the
negotiations for surrender; and, by his directions, gave general
orders to my troops to be ready at a moment's notice to cross the
Big Black, and go for Joe Johnston.

The next day (July 4, 1863) Vicksburg surrendered, and orders were
given for at once attacking General Johnston. The Thirteenth Corps
(General Ord) was ordered to march rapidly, and cross the Big Black
at the railroad-bridge; the Fifteenth by Mesainger's, and the Ninth
(General Parker) by Birdsong's Ferry-all to converge on Bolton. My
corps crossed the Big Black during the 5th and 6th of July, and
marched for Bolton, where we came in with General Ord's troops; but
the Ninth Corps was delayed in crossing at Birdsong's. Johnston
had received timely notice of Pemberton's surrender, and was in
full retreat for Jackson. On the 8th all our troops reached the
neighborhood of Clinton, the weather fearfully hot, and water
scarce. Johnston had marched rapidly, and in retreating had caused
cattle, hogs, and sheep, to be driven into the ponds of water, and
there shot down; so that we had to haul their dead and stinking
carcasses out to use the water. On the l0th of July we had driven
the rebel army into Jackson, where it turned at bay behind the
intrenchments, which had been enlarged and strengthened since our
former visit in May. We closed our lines about Jackson; my corps
(Fifteenth) held the centre, extending from the Clinton to the
Raymond road; Ord's (Thirteenth) on the right, reaching Pearl River
below the town; and Parker's (Ninth) the left, above the town.

On the 11th we pressed close in, and shelled the town from every
direction. One of Ords brigades (Lauman's) got too close, and was
very roughly handled and driven back in disorder. General Ord
accused the commander (General Lauman) of having disregarded his
orders, and attributed to him personally the disaster and heavy
loss of men. He requested his relief, which I granted, and General
Lauman went to the rear, and never regained his division. He died
after the war, in Iowa, much respected, as before that time he had
been universally esteemed a most gallant and excellent officer.
The weather was fearfully hot, but we continued to press the siege
day and night, using our artillery pretty freely; and on the
morning of July 17th the place was found evacuated. General
Steele's division was sent in pursuit as far as Brandon (fourteen
miles), but General Johnston had carried his army safely off, and
pursuit in that hot weather would have been fatal to my command.

Reporting the fact to General Grant, he ordered me to return, to
send General Parkes's corps to Haines's Bluff, General Ord's back
to Vicksburg, and he consented that I should encamp my whole corps
near the Big Black, pretty much on the same ground we had occupied
before the movement, and with the prospect of a period of rest for
the remainder of the summer. We reached our camps on the 27th of

Meantime, a division of troops, commanded by Brigadier-General W.
Sooy Smith, had been added to my corps. General Smith applied for
and received a sick-leave on the 20th of July; Brigadier-General
Hugh Ewing was assigned to its command; and from that time it
constituted the Fourth Division of the Fifteenth Army Corps.

Port Hudson had surrendered to General Banks on the 8th of July (a
necessary consequence of the fall of Vicksburg), and thus
terminated probably the most important enterprise of the civil
war--the recovery of the complete control of the Mississippi River,
from its source to its mouth--or, in the language of Mr. Lincoln,
the Mississippi went "unvexed to the sea."

I put my four divisions into handsome, clean camps, looking to
health and comfort alone, and had my headquarters in a beautiful
grove near the house of that same Parson Fox where I had found the
crowd of weeping rebel women waiting for the fate of their friends
in Vicksburg.

The loss sustained by the Fifteenth Corps in the assault of May
19th, at Vicksburg, was mostly confined to the battalion of the
Thirteenth Regulars, whose commanding officer, Captain Washington,
was mortally wounded, and afterward died in the hands of the enemy,
which battalion lost seventy-seven men out of the two hundred and
fifty engaged; the Eighty-third Indiana (Colonel Spooner), and the
One Hundred and Twenty seventh Illinois (Lieutenant-Colonel
Eldridge), the aggregate being about two hundred.

In the assaults of the 22d, the loss in the Fifteenth Corps was
about six hundred.

In the attack on Jackson, Mississippi, during the 11th-16th of
July, General Ord reported the loss in the Thirteenth Army Corps
seven hundred and sixty-two, of which five hundred and thirty-three
were confined to Lauman's division; General Parkes reported, in the
Ninth Corps, thirty-seven killed, two hundred and fifty-eight
wounded, and thirty-three missing: total, three hundred and
twenty-eight. In the Fifteenth Corps the loss was less; so that,
in the aggregate, the loss as reported by me at the time was less
than a thousand men, while we took that number alone of prisoners.

In General Grant's entire army before Vicksburg, composed of the
Ninth, part of the Sixteenth, and the whole of the Thirteenth;
Fifteenth, and Seventeenth Corps, the aggregate loss, as stated by
Badeau, was:

Killed: ....................... 1243
Wounded:....................... 7095
Missing: ...................... 535

Total: ........................ 8873

Whereas the Confederate loss, as stated by the same author,

Surrendered at Vicksburg .............. 32000
Captured at Champion Hills............. 3000
Captured at Big Black Bridge .......... 2000
Captured at Port Gibson................ 2000
Captured with Loring .................. 4000
Killed and wounded .................... 10000
Stragglers............................. 3000

Total.................................. 56000

Besides which, "a large amount of public property, consisting of
railroads, locomotives, cars, steamers, cotton, guns, muskets,
ammunition, etc., etc., was captured in Vicksburg."

The value of the capture of Vicksburg, however, was not measured by
the list of prisoners, guns, and small-arms, but by the fact that
its possession secured the navigation of the great central river of
the continent, bisected fatally the Southern Confederacy, and set
the armies which had been used in its conquest free for other
purposes; and it so happened that the event coincided as to time
with another great victory which crowned our arms far away, at
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That was a defensive battle, whereas
ours was offensive in the highest acceptation of the term, and the
two, occurring at the same moment of time, should have ended the
war; but the rebel leaders were mad, and seemed determined that
their people should drink of the very lowest dregs of the cup of
war, which they themselves had prepared.

The campaign of Vicksburg, in its conception and execution,
belonged exclusively to General Grant, not only in the great whole,
but in the thousands of its details. I still retain many of his
letters and notes, all in his own handwriting, prescribing the
routes of march for divisions and detachments, specifying even the
amount of food and tools to be carried along. Many persons gave
his adjutant general, Rawlins, the credit for these things, but
they were in error; for no commanding general of an army ever gave
more of his personal attention to details, or wrote so many of his
own orders, reports, and letters, as General Grant. His success at
Vicksburg justly gave him great fame at home and abroad. The
President conferred on him the rank of major-general in the regular
army, the highest grade then existing by law; and General McPherson
and I shared in his success by receiving similar commissions as
brigadier-generals in the regular army.

But our success at Vicksburg produced other results not so
favorable to our cause--a general relaxation of effort, and desire
to escape the hard drudgery of camp: officers sought leaves of
absence to visit their homes, and soldiers obtained furloughs and
discharges on the most slender pretexts; even the General
Government seemed to relax in its efforts to replenish our ranks
with new men, or to enforce the draft, and the politicians were
pressing their schemes to reorganize or patch up some form of civil
government, as fast as the armies gained partial possession of the

In order to illustrate this peculiar phase of our civil war, I give
at this place copies of certain letters which have not heretofore
been published:


WASHINGTON, August 29, 1868.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Vicksburg, Mississippi

My DEAR GENERAL: The question of reconstruction in Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Arkansas, will soon come up for decision of the
Government, and not only the length of the war, but our ultimate
and complete success, will depend upon its decision. It is a
difficult matter, but I believe it can be successfully solved, if
the President will consult opinions of cool and discreet men, who
are capable of looking at it in all its bearings and effects. I
think he is disposed to receive the advice of our generals who have
been in these States, and know much more of their condition than
gassy politicians in Congress. General Banks has written pretty
fully, on the subject. I wrote to General Grant, immediately,
after the fall of Vicksburg, for his views in regard to
Mississippi, but he has not yet answered.

I wish you would consult with Grant, McPherson, and others of cool,
good judgment, and write me your views fully, as I may wish to use
them with the President. You had better write me unofficially, and
then your letter will not be put on file, and cannot hereafter be
used against you. You have been in Washington enough to know how
every thing a man writes or says is picked up by his enemies and
misconstrued. With kind wishes for your further success,

I am yours truly,


[Private and Confidential.]

H. W. HALLECK, Commander-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.

DEAR GENERAL: I have received your letter of August 29th, and with
pleasure confide to you fully my thoughts on the important matters
you suggest, with absolute confidence that you will use what is
valuable, and reject the useless or superfluous.

That part of the continent of North America known as Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Arkansas, is in my judgment the key to the whole
interior. The valley of the Mississippi is America, and, although
railroads have changed the economy of intercommunication, yet the
water-channels still mark the lines of fertile land, and afford
cheap carriage to the heavy products of it.

The inhabitants of the country on the Monongahela, the Illinois,
the Minnesota, the Yellowstone, and Osage, are as directly
concerned in the security of the Lower Mississippi as are those who
dwell on its very banks in Louisiana; and now that the nation has
recovered its possession, this generation of men will make a
fearful mistake if they again commit its charge to a people liable
to misuse their position, and assert, as was recently done, that,
because they dwelt on the banks of this mighty stream, they had a
right to control its navigation.

I would deem it very unwise at this time, or for years to come, to
revive the State governments of Louisiana, etc., or to institute in
this quarter any civil government in which the local people have
much to say. They had a government so mild and paternal that they
gradually forgot they had any at all, save what they themselves
controlled; they asserted an absolute right to seize public moneys,
forts, arms, and even to shut up the natural avenues of travel and
commerce. They chose war--they ignored and denied all the
obligations of the solemn contract of government and appealed to

We accepted the issue, and now they begin to realize that war is a
two-edged sword, and it may be that many of the inhabitants cry for
peace. I know them well, and the very impulses of their nature;
and to deal with the inhabitants of that part of the South which
borders on the great river, we must recognize the classes into
which they have divided themselves:

First. The large planters, owning lands, slaves, and all kinds of
personal property. These are, on the whole, the ruling class.
They are educated, wealthy, and easily approached. In some
districts they are bitter as gall, and have given up slaves,
plantations, and all, serving in the armies of the Confederacy;
whereas, in others, they are conservative. None dare admit a
friendship for us, though they say freely that they were at the
outset opposed to war and disunion. I know we can manage this
class, but only by action. Argument is exhausted, and words have
lost their usual meaning. Nothing but the logic of events touches
their understanding; but, of late, this has worked a wonderful
change. If our country were like Europe, crowded with people, I
would say it would be easier to replace this class than to
reconstruct it, subordinate to the policy of the nation; but, as
this is not the case, it is better to allow the planters, with
individual exceptions, gradually to recover their plantations, to
hire any species of labor, and to adapt themselves to the new order
of things. Still, their friendship and assistance to reconstruct
order out of the present ruin cannot be depended on. They watch
the operations of our armies, and hope still for a Southern
Confederacy that will restore to them the slaves and privileges
which they feel are otherwise lost forever. In my judgment, we
have two more battles to win before we should even bother our minds
with the idea of restoring civil order--viz., one near Meridian, in
November, and one near Shreveport, in February and March next, when
Red River is navigable by our gunboats. When these are done, then,
and not until then, will the planters of Louisiana, Arkansas, and
Mississippi, submit. Slavery is already gone, and, to cultivate
the land, negro or other labor must be hired. This, of itself, is
a vast revolution, and time must be afforded to allow men to adjust
their minds and habits to this new order of things. A civil
government of the representative type would suit this class far
less than a pure military role, readily adapting itself to actual
occurrences, and able to enforce its laws and orders promptly and

Second. The smaller farmers, mechanics, merchants, and laborers.
This class will probably number three-quarters of the whole; have,
in fact, no real interest in the establishment of a Southern
Confederacy, and have been led or driven into war on the false
theory that they were to be benefited somehow--they knew not how.
They are essentially tired of the war, and would slink back home if
they could. These are the real tiers etat of the South, and are
hardly worthy a thought; for they swerve to and fro according to
events which they do not comprehend or attempt to shape. When the
time for reconstruction comes, they will want the old political
system of caucuses, Legislatures, etc., to amuse them and make them
believe they are real sovereigns; but in all things they will
follow blindly the lead of the planters. The Southern politicians,
who understand this class, use them as the French do their masses
--seemingly consult their prejudices, while they make their orders
and enforce them. We should do the same.

Third. The Union men of the South. I must confess I have little
respect for this class. They allowed a clamorous set of demagogues
to muzzle and drive them as a pack of curs. Afraid of shadows,
they submit tamely to squads of dragoons, and permit them, without
a murmur, to burn their cotton, take their horses, corn, and every
thing; and, when we reach them, they are full of complaints if our
men take a few fence-rails for fire, or corn to feed our horses.
They give us no assistance or information, and are loudest in their
complaints at the smallest excesses of our soldiers. Their sons,
horses, arms, and every thing useful, are in the army against us,
and they stay at home, claiming all the exemptions of peaceful
citizens. I account them as nothing in this great game of war.

Fourth. The young bloods of the South: sons of planters, lawyers
about towns, good billiard-players and sportsmen, men who never did
work and never will. War suits them, and the rascals are brave,
fine riders, bold to rashness, and dangerous subjects in every
sense. They care not a sou for niggers, land, or any thing. They
hate Yankees per se, and don't bother their brains about the past,
present, or future. As long as they have good horses, plenty of
forage, and an open country, they are happy. This is a larger
class than most men suppose, and they are the most dangerous set of
men that this war has turned loose upon the world. They are
splendid riders, first-rate shots, and utterly reckless. Stewart,
John Morgan, Forrest, and Jackson, are the types and leaders of
this class. These men must all be killed or employed by us before
we can hope for peace. They have no property or future, and
therefore cannot be influenced by any thing, except personal
considerations. I have two brigades of these fellows in my front,
commanded by Cosby, of the old army, and Whitfield, of Texas.
Stephen D. Lee is in command of the whole. I have frequent
interviews with their officers, a good understanding with them, and
am inclined to think, when the resources of their country are
exhausted, we must employ them. They are the best cavalry in the
world, but it will tax Mr. Chase's genius for finance to supply
them with horses. At present horses cost them nothing; for they
take where they find, and don't bother their brains as to who is to
pay for them; the same may be said of the cornfields, which have,
as they believe, been cultivated by a good-natured people for their
special benefit. We propose to share with them the free use of
these cornfields, planted by willing hands, that will never gather
the crops.

Now that I have sketched the people who inhabit the district of
country under consideration, I will proceed to discuss the future.

A civil government now, for any part of it, would be simply
ridiculous. The people would not regard it, and even the military
commanders of the antagonistic parties would treat it lightly.
Governors would be simply petitioners for military assistance, to
protect supposed friendly interests, and military commanders would
refuse to disperse and weaken their armies for military reasons.
Jealousies would arise between the two conflicting powers, and,
instead of contributing to the end of the war, would actually defer
it. Therefore, I contend that the interests of the United States,
and of the real parties concerned, demand the continuance of the
simple military role, till after all the organized armies of the
South are dispersed, conquered, and subjugated.

The people of all this region are represented in the Army of
Virginia, at Charleston, Mobile, and Chattanooga. They have sons
and relations in each of the rebel armies, and naturally are
interested in their fate. Though we hold military possession of
the key-points of their country, still they contend, and naturally,
that should Lee succeed in Virginia, or Bragg at Chattanooga, a
change will occur here also. We cannot for this reason attempt to
reconstruct parts of the South as we conquer it, till all idea of
the establishment of a Southern Confederacy is abandoned. We
should avail ourselves of the present lull to secure the
strategical points that will give us an advantage in the future
military movements, and we should treat the idea of civil
government as one in which we as a nation have a minor or
subordinate interest. The opportunity is good to impress on the
population the truth that they are more interested in civil
government than we are; and that, to enjoy the protection of laws,
they most not be passive observers of events, but must aid and
sustain the constituted authorities in enforcing the laws; they
must not only submit themselves, but should pay their share of
taxes, and render personal services when called on.

It seems to me, in contemplating the history of the past two years,
that all the people of our country, North, South, East, and West,
have been undergoing a salutary political schooling, learning
lessons which might have been acquired from the experience of other
people; but we had all become so wise in our own conceit that we
would only learn by actual experience of our own. The people even
of small and unimportant localities, North as well as South, had
reasoned themselves into the belief that their opinions were
superior to the aggregated interest of the whole nation. Half our
territorial nation rebelled, on a doctrine of secession that they
themselves now scout; and a real numerical majority actually
believed that a little State was endowed with such sovereignty that
it could defeat the policy of the great whole. I think the present
war has exploded that notion, and were this war to cease now, the
experience gained, though dear, would be worth the expense.

Another great and important natural truth is still in contest, and
can only be solved by war. Numerical majorities by vote have been
our great arbiter. Heretofore all men have cheerfully submitted to
it in questions left open, but numerical majorities are not
necessarily physical majorities. The South, though numerically
inferior, contend they can whip the Northern superiority of
numbers, and therefore by natural law they contend that they are
not bound to submit. This issue is the only real one, and in my
judgment all else should be deferred to it. War alone can decide
it, and it is the only question now left for us as a people to
decide. Can we whip the South? If we can, our numerical majority
has both the natural and constitutional right to govern them. If
we cannot whip them, they contend for the natural right to select
their own government, and they have the argument. Our armies must
prevail over theirs; our officers, marshals, and courts, must
penetrate into the innermost recesses of their land, before we have
the natural right to demand their submission.

I would banish all minor questions, assert the broad doctrine that
as a nation the United States has the right, and also the physical
power, to penetrate to every part of our national domain, and that
we will do it--that we will do it in our own time and in our own
way; that it makes no difference whether it be in one year, or two,
or ten, or twenty; that we will remove and destroy every obstacle,
if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of
property, every thing that to us seems proper; that we will not
cease till the end is attained; that all who do not aid us are
enemies, and that we will not account to them for our acts. If the
people of the South oppose, they do so at their peril; and if they
stand by, mere lookers-on in this domestic tragedy, they have no
right to immunity, protection, or share in the final results.

I even believe and contend further that, in the North, every member
of the nation is bound by both natural and constitutional law to
"maintain and defend the Government against all its enemies and
opposers whomsoever." If they fail to do it they are derelict, and
can be punished, or deprived of all advantages arising from the
labors of those who do. If any man, North or South, withholds his
share of taxes, or his physical assistance in this, the crisis of
our history, he should be deprived of all voice in the future
elections of this country, and might be banished, or reduced to the
condition of a mere denizen of the land.

War is upon us, none can deny it. It is not the choice of the
Government of the United States, but of a faction; the Government
was forced to accept the issue, or to submit to a degradation fatal
and disgraceful to all the inhabitants. In accepting war, it
should be "pure and simple" as applied to the belligerents. I
would keep it so, till all traces of the war are effaced; till
those who appealed to it are sick and tired of it, and come to the
emblem of our nation, and sue for peace. I would not coax them, or
even meet them half-way, but make them so sick of war that
generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.

I know what I say when I repeat that the insurgents of the South
sneer at all overtures looking to their interests. They scorn the
alliance with the Copperheads; they tell me to my face that they
respect Grant, McPherson, and our brave associates who fight
manfully and well for a principle, but despise the Copperheads and
sneaks at the North, who profess friendship for the South and
opposition to the war, as mere covers for their knavery and

God knows that I deplore this fratricidal war as much as any man
living, but it is upon us, a physical fact; and there is only one
honorable issue from it. We must fight it out, army against army,
and man against man; and I know, and you know, and civilians begin
to realize the fact, that reconciliation and reconstruction will be
easier through and by means of strong, well-equipped, and organized
armies than through any species of conventions that can be framed.
The issues are made, and all discussion is out of place and
ridiculous. The section of thirty-pounder Parrott rifles now
drilling before my tent is a more convincing argument than the
largest Democratic meeting the State of New York can possibly
assemble at Albany; and a simple order of the War Department to
draft enough men to fill our skeleton regiments would be more
convincing as to our national perpetuity than an humble pardon to
Jeff. Davis and all his misled host.

The only government needed or deserved by the States of Louisiana,
Arkansas, and Mississippi, now exists in Grant's army. This needs,
simply, enough privates to fill its ranks; all else will follow in
due season. This army has its well-defined code of laws and
practice, and can adapt itself to the wants and necessities of a
city, the country, the rivers, the sea, indeed to all parts of this
land. It better subserves the interest and policy of the General
Government, and the people here prefer it to any weak or servile
combination that would at once, from force of habit, revive sad
perpetuate local prejudices and passions. The people of this
country have forfeited all right to a voice in the councils of the
nation. They know it and feel it, and in after-years they will be
the better citizens from the dear bought experience of the present
crisis. Let them learn now, and learn it well, that good citizens
must obey as well as command. Obedience to law, absolute--yea,
even abject--is the lesson that this war, under Providence, will
teach the free and enlightened American citizen. As a nation, we
shall be the better for it.

I never have apprehended foreign interference in our family
quarrel. Of coarse, governments founded on a different and it may
be an antagonistic principle with ours naturally feel a pleasure at
our complications, and, it may be, wish our downfall; but in the
end England and France will join with us in jubilation at the
triumph of constitutional government over faction. Even now the
English manifest this. I do not profess to understand Napoleon's
design in Mexico, and I do not, see that his taking military
possession of Mexico concerns us. We have as much territory now as
we want. The Mexicans have failed in self-government, and it was a
question as to what nation she should fall a prey. That is now
solved, and I don't see that we are damaged. We have the finest
part of the North American Continent, all we can people and can
take care of; and, if we can suppress rebellion in our own land,
and compose the strife generated by it, we shall have enough
people, resources, and wealth, if well combined, to defy
interference from any and every quarter.

I therefore hope the Government of the United States will continue,
as heretofore, to collect, in well-organized armies, the physical
strength of the nation; applying it, as heretofore, in asserting
the national authority; and in persevering, without relaxation, to
the end. This, whether near or far off, is not for us to say; but,
fortunately, we have no choice. We must succeed--no other choice
is left us except degradation. The South must be ruled by us, or
she will rule us. We must conquer them, or ourselves be conquered.
There is no middle course. They ask, and will have, nothing else,
and talk of compromise is bosh; for we know they would even scorn
the offer.

I wish the war could have been deferred for twenty years, till the
superabundant population of the North could flow in and replace the
losses sustained by war; but this could not be, and we are forced
to take things as they are.

All therefore I can now venture to advise is to raise the draft to
its maximum, fill the present regiments to as large a standard as
possible, and push the war, pure and simple. Great attention
should be paid to the discipline of our armies, for on them may be
founded the future stability of the Government.

The cost of the war is, of course, to be considered, but finances
will adjust themselves to the actual state of affairs; and, even if
we would, we could not change the cost. Indeed, the larger the
cost now, the less will it be in the end; for the end must be
attained somehow, regardless of loss of life and treasure, and is
merely a question of time.

Excuse so long a letter. With great respect, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

General Halleck, on receipt of this letter, telegraphed me that Mr.
Lincoln had read it carefully, and had instructed him to obtain my
consent to have it published. At the time, I preferred not to be
drawn into any newspaper controversy, and so wrote to General
Halleck; and the above letter has never been, to my knowledge,
published; though Mr. Lincoln more than once referred to it with
marks of approval.

CAMP ON BIG BLACK, September 17, 1863

Brigadier-General J. A. RAWLINS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Vicksburg.

DEAR GENERAL: I inclose for your perusal, and for you to read to
General Grant such parts as you deem interesting, letters received
by me from Prof. Mahan and General Halleck, with my answers. After
you have read my answer to General Halleck, I beg you to inclose it
to its address, and return me the others.

I think Prof. Mahan's very marked encomium upon the campaign of
Vicksburg is so flattering to General Grant, that you may offer to
let him keep the letter, if he values such a testimonial. I have
never written a word to General Halleck since my report of last
December, after the affair at Chickasaw, except a short letter a
few days ago, thanking him for the kind manner of his transmitting
to me the appointment of brigadier-general. I know that in
Washington I am incomprehensible, because at the outset of the war
I would not go it blind and rush headlong into a war unprepared and
with an utter ignorance of its extent and purpose. I was then
construed unsound; and now that I insist on war pure and simple,
with no admixture of civil compromises, I am supposed vindictive.
You remember what Polonius said to his son Laertes: "Beware of
entrance to a quarrel; but, being in, bear it, that the opposed may
beware of thee." What is true of the single man, is equally true
of a nation. Our leaders seemed at first to thirst for the
quarrel, willing, even anxious, to array against us all possible
elements of opposition; and now, being in, they would hasten to
quit long before the "opposed" has received that lesson which he
needs. I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no
symptoms of tiring till the South begs for mercy; indeed, I know,
and you know, that the end would be reached quicker by such a
course than by any seeming yielding on our part. I don't want our
Government to be bothered by patching up local governments, or by
trying to reconcile any class of men. The South has done her
worst, and now is the time for us to pile on our blows thick and

Instead of postponing the draft till after the elections, we ought

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