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  • 1889
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night closed in so dark that we could not move. General Grant came up to us there. At daylight we resumed the march, and at Graysville, where a good bridge spanned the Chickamauga, we found the corps of General Palmer on the south bank, who informed us that General Hooker was on a road still farther south, and we could hear his guns near Ringgold.

As the roads were filled with all the troops they could possibly accommodate, I turned to the east, to fulfill another part of the general plan, viz., to break up all communication between Bragg and Longstreet.

We had all sorts of rumors as to the latter, but it was manifest that we should interpose a proper force between these two armies. I therefore directed General Howard to move to Parker’s Gap, and thence send rapidly a competent force to Red Clay, or the Council-Ground, there to destroy a large section of the railroad which connects Dalton and Cleveland. This work was most successfully and fully accomplished that day. The division of General Jeff. C. Davis was moved close up to Ringgold, to assist General Hooker if needed, and the Fifteenth Corps was held at Grayeville, for any thing that might turn up. About noon I had a message from General Hooker, saying he had had a pretty hard fight at the mountain-pass just beyond Ringgold, and he wanted me to come forward to turn the position. He was not aware at the time that Howard, by moving through Parker’s Gap toward Red Clay, had already turned it. So I rode forward to Ringgold in person, and found the enemy had already fallen back to Tunnel Hill. He was already out of the valley of the Chickamauga, and on ground whence the waters flow to the Coosa. He was out of Tennessee.

I found General Grant at Ringgold, and, after some explanations as to breaking up the railroad from Ringgold back to the State line, as soon as some cars loaded with wounded men could be pushed back to Chickamauga depot, I was ordered to move slowly and leisurely back to Chattanooga.

On the following day the Fifteenth Corps destroyed absolutely and effectually the railroad from a point half-way between Ringgold and Graysville, back to the State line; and General Grant, coming to Graysville, consented that, instead of returning direct to Chattanooga, I might send back all my artillery-wagons and impediments, and make a circuit by the north as far as the Hiawasaee River.

Accordingly, on the morning of November 29th, General Howard moved from Parker’s Gap to Cleveland, General Davis by way of McDaniel’s Gap, and General Blair with two divisions of the Fifteenth Corps by way of Julien’s Gap, all meeting at Cleveland that night. Here another good break was made in the Dalton & Cleveland road. On the 30th the army moved to Charleston, General Howard approaching so rapidly that the enemy evacuated with haste, leaving the bridge but partially damaged, and five car-loads of flour and provisions on the north bank of the Hiawassee.

This was to have been the limit of our operations. Officers and men had brought no baggage or provisions, and the weather was bitter cold. I had already reached the town of Charleston, when General Wilson arrived with a letter from General Grant, at Chattanooga, informing me that the latest authentic accounts from Knoxville were to the 27th, at which time General Burnside was completely invested, and had provisions only to include the 3d of December; that General Granger had left Chattanooga for Knoxville, by the river-road, with a steamboat following him in the river; but he feared that General Granger could not reach Knoxville in time, and ordered me to take command of all troops moving for the relief of Knoxville, and hasten to General Burnside. Seven days before, we had left our camps on the other side of the Tennessee with two days’ rations, without a change of clothing–stripped for the fight, with but a single blanket or coat per man, from myself to the private included.

Of course, we then had no provisions save what we gathered by the road, and were ill supplied for such a march. But we learned that twelve thousand of our fellow-soldiers were beleaguered in the mountain town of Knoxville, eighty-four miles distant; that they needed relief, and must have it in three days. This was enough– and it had to be done. General Howard that night repaired and planked the railroad-bridge, and at daylight the army passed over the Hiawassee and marched to Athens, fifteen miles. I had supposed rightly that General Granger was about the mouth of the Hiawassee, and had sent him notice of my orders; that General Grant had sent me a copy of his written instructions, which were full and complete, and that he must push for Kingston, near which we would make a junction. But by the time I reached Athens I had better studied the geography, and sent him orders, which found him at Decatur, that Kingston was out of our way; that he should send his boat to Kingston, but with his command strike across to Philadelphia, and report to me there. I had but a small force of cavalry, which was, at the time of my receipt of General Grant’s orders, scouting over about Benton and Columbus. I left my aide, Major McCoy, at Charleston, to communicate with this cavalry and hurry it forward. It overtook me in the night at Athens.

On the 2d of December the army moved rapidly north toward Loudon, twenty-six miles distant. About 11 a.m., the cavalry passed to the head of the column, was ordered to push to London, and, if possible, to save a pontoon-bridge across the Tennessee, held by a brigade of the enemy commanded by General Vaughn. The cavalry moved with such rapidity as to capture every picket; but the brigade of Vaughn had artillery in position, covered by earthworks, and displayed a force too respectable to be carried by a cavalry dash, so that darkness closed in before General Howard’s infantry got up. The enemy abandoned the place in the night, destroying the pontoons, running three locomotives and forty-eight cars into the Tennessee River, and abandoned much provision, four guns, and other material, which General Howard took at daylight. But the bridge was gone, and we were forced to turn east and trust to General Burnside’s bridge at Knoxville. It was all-important that General Burnside should have notice of our coming, and but one day of the time remained.

Accordingly, at Philadelphia, during the night of the 2d of December, I sent my aide (Major Audenried) forward to Colonel Long, commanding the brigade of cavalry at London, to explain to him how all-important it was that notice of our approach should reach General Burnside within twenty-four hours, ordering him to select the best materials of his command, to start at once, ford the Little Tennessee, and push into Knoxville at whatever cost of life and horse-flesh. Major Audenried was ordered to go along. The distance to be traveled was about forty miles, and the roads villainous. Before day they were off, and at daylight the Fifteenth Corps was turned from Philadelphia for the Little Tennessee at Morgantown, where my maps represented the river as being very shallow; but it was found too deep for fording, and the water was freezing cold–width two hundred and forty yards, depth from two to five feet; horses could ford, but artillery and men could not. A bridge was indispensable. General Wilson (who accompanied me) undertook to superintend the bridge, and I am under many obligations to him, as I was without an engineer, having sent Captain Jenny back from Graysville to survey our field of battle. We had our pioneers, but only such tools as axes, picks, and spades. General Wilson, working partly with cut wood and partly with square trestles (made of the houses of the late town of Morgantown), progressed apace, and by dark of December 4th troops and animals passed over the bridge, and by daybreak of the 5th the Fifteenth Corps (General Blair’s) was over, and Generals-Granger’s and Davis’s divisions were ready to pass; but the diagonal bracing was imperfect for, want of spikes, and the bridge broke, causing delay. I had ordered General Blair to move out on the Marysville road five miles, there to await notice that General Granger was on a parallel road abreast of him, and in person I was at a house where the roads parted, when a messenger rode up, bringing me a few words from General Burnside, to the effect that Colonel Long had arrived at Knoxville with his cavalry, and that all was well with him there; Longstreet still lay before the place, but there were symptoms of his speedy departure.

I felt that I had accomplished the first great step in the problem for the relief of General Burnside’s army, but still urged on the work. As soon as the bridge was mended, all the troops moved forward. General Howard had marched from Loudon, had found a pretty good ford for his horses and wagons at Davis’s, seven miles below Morgantown, and had made an ingenious bridge of the wagons left by General Vaughn at London, on which to pass his men. He marched by Unitia and Louisville. On the night of the 5th all the heads of columns communicated at Marysville, where I met Major Van Buren (of General Burnside’s staff), who announced that Longstreet had the night before retreated on the Rutledge, Rogersville, and Bristol road, leading to Virginia; that General Burnside’s cavalry was on his heels; and that the general desired to see me in person as soon as I could come to Knoxville. I ordered all the troops to halt and rest, except the two divisions of General Granger, which were ordered to move forward to Little River, and General Granger to report in person to General Burnside for orders. His was the force originally designed to reenforce General Burnside, and it was eminently proper that it should join in the stern-chase after Longstreet.

On the morning of December 6th I rode from Marysville into Knoxville, and met General Burnside. General Granger arrived later in the day. We examined his lines of fortifications, which were a wonderful production for the short time allowed in their selection of ground and construction of work. It seemed to me that they were nearly impregnable. We examined the redoubt named “Sanders,” where, on the Sunday previous, three brigades of the enemy had assaulted and met a bloody repulse. Now, all was peaceful and quiet; but a few hours before, the deadly bullet sought its victim all round about that hilly barrier.

The general explained to me fully and frankly what he had done, and what he proposed to do. He asked of me nothing but General Granger’s command; and suggested, in view of the large force I had brought from Chattanooga, that I should return with due expedition to the line of the Hiawasaee, lest Bragg, reenforced, might take advantage of our absence to resume the offensive. I asked him to reduce this to writing, which he did, and I here introduce it as part of my report:

KNOXVILLE, December 7, 1863

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding, etc.

GENERAL: I desire to express to you and your command my most hearty thanks and gratitude for your promptness in coming to our relief during the siege of Knoxville, and I am satisfied your approach served to raise the siege. The emergency having passed, I do not deem, for the present, any other portion of your command but the corps of General Granger necessary for operations in this section; and, inasmuch as General Grant has weakened the forces immediately with him in order to relieve us (thereby rendering the position of General Thomas less secure), I deem it advisable that all the troops now here, save those commanded by General Granger, should return at once to within supporting distance of the forces in front of Bragg’s army. In behalf of my command, I desire again to thank you and your command for the kindness you have done us.

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

A. E. BURNSIDE, Major-General commanding.

Accordingly, having seen General Burnside’s forces move out of Knoxville in pursuit of Longstreet, and General Granger’s move in, I put in motion my own command to return. General Howard was ordered to move, via Davis’s Ford and Sweetwater, to Athena, with a guard forward at Charleston, to hold and repair the bridge which the enemy had retaken after our passage up. General Jeff. C. Davis moved to Columbus, on the Hiawaesee, via Madisonville, and the two divisions of the Fifteenth Corps moved to Tellico Plains, to cover movement of cavalry across the mountains into Georgia, to overtake a wagon-train which had dodged us on our way up, and had escaped by way of Murphy. Subsequently, on a report from General Howard that the enemy held Charleston, I diverted General Ewing’s division to Athena, and went in person to Tellico with General Morgan L. Smith’s division. By the 9th all our troops were in position, and we held the rich country between the Little Tennessee and the Hiawasaee. The cavalry, under Colonel Long, passed the mountain at Tellico, and proceeded about seventeen miles beyond Murphy, when Colonel Long, deeming his farther pursuit of the wagon-train useless, returned on the 12th to Tellico. I then ordered him and the division of General Morgan L. Smith to move to Charleston, to which point I had previously ordered the corps of General Howard.

On the 14th of December all of my command in the field lay along the Hiawassee. Having communicated to General Grant the actual state of affairs, I received orders to leave, on the line of the Hiawassee, all the cavalry, and come to Chattanooga with the rest of my command. I left the brigade of cavalry commanded by Colonel Long, reenforced by the Fifth Ohio Cavalry (Lieutenant-Colonel Heath)–the only cavalry properly belonging to the Fifteenth Army Corps–at Charleston, and with the remainder moved by easy marches, by Cleveland and Tyner’s Depot, into Chattanooga, where I received in person from General Grant orders to transfer back to their appropriate commands the corps of General Howard and the division commanded by General Jeff. C. Davis, and to conduct the Fifteenth Army Corps to its new field of operations.

It will thus appear that we have been constantly in motion since our departure from the Big Black, in Mississippi, until the present moment. I have been unable to receive from subordinate commanders the usual full, detailed reports of events, and have therefore been compelled to make up this report from my own personal memory; but, as soon as possible, subordinate reports will be received and duly forwarded.

In reviewing the facts, I must do justice to the men of my command for the patience, cheerfulness, and courage which officers and men have displayed throughout, in battle, on the march, and in camp. For long periods, without regular rations or supplies of any kind, they have marched through mud and over rocks, sometimes barefooted, without a murmur. Without a moment’s rest after a march of over four hundred miles, without sleep for three successive nights, we crossed the Tennessee, fought our part of the battle of Chattanooga, pursued the enemy out of Tennessee, and then turned more than a hundred and twenty miles north and compelled Longstreet to raise the siege of Knoxville, which gave so much anxiety to the whole country. It is hard to realize the importance of these events without recalling the memory of the general feeling which pervaded all minds at Chattanooga prior to our arrival. I cannot speak of the Fifteenth Army Corps without a seeming vanity; but as I am no longer its commander, I assert that there is no better body of soldiers in America than it. I wish all to feel a just pride in its real honors.

To General Howard and his command, to General Jeff. C. Davis and his, I am more than usually indebted for the intelligence of commanders and fidelity of commands. The brigade of Colonel Bushbeck, belonging to the Eleventh Corps, which was the first to come out of Chattanooga to my flank, fought at the Tunnel Hill, in connection with General Ewing’s division, and displayed a courage almost amounting to rashness. Following the enemy almost to the tunnel-gorge, it lost many valuable lives, prominent among them Lieutenant-Colonel Taft, spoken of as a most gallant soldier.

In General Howard throughout I found a polished and Christian gentleman, exhibiting the highest and most chivalric traits of the soldier. General Davis handled his division with artistic skill, more especially at the moment we encountered the enemy’s rear-guard, near Graysville, at nightfall. I must award to this division the credit of the best order during our movement through East Tennessee, when long marches and the necessity of foraging to the right and left gave some reason for disordered ranks:

Inasmuch as exception may be taken to my explanation of the temporary confusion, during the battle of Chattanooga, of the two brigades of General Matthias and Colonel Raum, I will here state that I saw the whole; and attach no blame to any one. Accidents will happen in battle, as elsewhere; and at the point where they so manfully went to relieve the pressure on other parts of our assaulting line, they exposed themselves unconsciously to an enemy vastly superior in force, and favored by the shape of the ground. Had that enemy come out on equal terms, those brigades would have shown their mettle, which has been tried more than once before and stood the test of fire. They reformed their ranks, and were ready to support General Ewing’s division in a very few minutes; and the circumstance would have hardly called for notice on my part, had not others reported what was seen from Chattanooga, a distance of nearly five miles, from where could only be seen the troops in the open field in which this affair occurred.

I now subjoin the best report of casualties I am able to compile from the records thus far received:

Killed; Wounded; and Missing…………… 1949

No report from General Davis’s division, but loss is small.

Among the killed were some of our most valuable officers: Colonels Putnam, Ninety-third Illinois; O’Meara, Ninetieth Illinois; and Torrence, Thirtieth Iowa; Lieutenant-Colonel-Taft, of the Eleventh Corps; and Major Bushnell, Thirteenth Illinois.

Among the wounded are Brigadier-Generals Giles A. Smith, Corse, and Matthias; Colonel Raum; Colonel Waugelin, Twelfth Missouri; Lieutenant-Colonel Partridge, Thirteenth Illinois; Major P. I. Welsh, Fifty-sixth Illinois; and Major Nathan McAlla, Tenth Iowa.

Among the missing is Lieutenant-Colonel Archer, Seventeenth Iowa.

My report is already so long, that I must forbear mentioning acts of individual merit. These will be recorded in the reports of division commanders, which I will cheerfully indorse; but I must say that it is but justice that colonels of regiments, who have so long and so well commanded brigades, as in the following cases, should be commissioned to the grade which they have filled with so much usefulness and credit to the public service, viz.: Colonel J. R. Cockerell, Seventieth, Ohio; Colonel J. M. Loomis, Twenty-sixth Illinois; Colonel C. C. Walcutt, Forty-sixth Ohio; Colonel J. A. Williamson, Fourth Iowa; Colonel G. B. Raum, Fifty-sixth Illinois; Colonel J. I. Alexander, Fifty-ninth Indiana.

My personal staff, as usual, have served their country with fidelity, and credit to themselves, throughout these events, and have received my personal thanks.

Inclosed you will please find a map of that part of the battle-field of Chattanooga fought over by the troops under my command, surveyed and drawn by Captain Jenney, engineer on my staff. I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

[General Order No. 68.]


Joint resolution tendering the thanks of Congress to Major-General W. T. Sherman and others.

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of Congress and of the people of the United States are due, and that the same are hereby tendered, to Major-General W. T. Sherman, commander of the Department and Army of the Tennessee, and the officers and soldiers who served under him, for their gallant and arduous services in marching to the relief of the Army of the Cumberland, and for their gallantry and heroism in the battle of Chattanooga, which contributed in a great degree to the success of our arms in that glorious victory.

Approved February 19, 1864.
By order of the Secretary of War:

E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.

On the 19th of December I was at Bridgeport, and gave all the orders necessary for the distribution of the four divisions of the Fifteenth Corps along the railroad from Stevenson to Decatur, and the part of the Sixteenth Corps; commanded by General Dodge, along the railroad from Decatur to Nashville, to make the needed repairs, and to be in readiness for the campaign of the succeeding year; and on the 21st I went up to Nashville, to confer with General Grant and conclude the arrangements for the winter. At that time General Grant was under the impression that the next campaign would be up the valley of East Tennessee, in the direction of Virginia; and as it was likely to be the last and most important campaign of the war, it became necessary to set free as many of the old troops serving along the Mississippi River as possible. This was the real object and purpose of the Meridian campaign, and of Banks’s expedition up Red River to Shreveport during that winter.




The winter of 1863-’64 opened very cold and severe; and it was manifest after the battle of Chattanooga, November 25, 1863, and the raising of the siege of Knoxville, December 5th, that military operations in that quarter must in a measure cease, or be limited to Burnside’s force beyond Knoxville. On the 21st of December General Grant had removed his headquarters to Nashville, Tennessee, leaving General George H. Thomas at Chattanooga, in command of the Department of the Cumberland, and of the army round about that place; and I was at Bridgeport, with orders to distribute my troops along the railroad from Stevenson to Decatur, Alabama, and from Decatur up toward Nashville.

General G. M. Dodge, who was in command of the detachment of the Sixteenth Corps, numbering about eight thousand men, had not participated with us in the battle of Chattanooga, but had remained at and near Pulaski, Tennessee, engaged in repairing that railroad, as auxiliary to the main line which led from Nashville to Stevenson, and Chattanooga. General John A. Logan had succeeded to the command of the Fifteenth Corps, by regular appointment of the President of the United States, and had relieved General Frank P. Blair, who had been temporarily in command of that corps during the Chattanooga and Knoxville movement.

At that time I was in command of the Department of the Tennessee, which embraced substantially the territory on the east bank of the Mississippi River, from Natchez up to the Ohio River, and thence along the Tennessee River as high as Decatur and Bellefonte, Alabama. General McPherson was at Vicksburg and General Hurlbut at Memphis, and from them I had the regular reports of affairs in that quarter of my command. The rebels still maintained a considerable force of infantry and cavalry in the State of Mississippi, threatening the river, whose navigation had become to us so delicate and important a matter. Satisfied that I could check this by one or two quick moves inland, and thereby set free a considerable body of men held as local garrisons, I went up to Nashville and represented the case to General Grant, who consented that I might go down the Mississippi River, where the bulk of my command lay, and strike a blow on the east of the river, while General Banks from New Orleans should in like manner strike another to the west; thus preventing any further molestation of the boats navigating the main river, and thereby widening the gap in the Southern Confederacy.

After having given all the necessary orders for the distribution, during the winter months, of that part of my command which was in Southern and Middle Tennessee, I went to Cincinnati and Lancaster, Ohio, to spend Christmas with my family; and on my return I took Minnie with me down to a convent at Reading, near Cincinnati, where I left her, and took the cars for Cairo, Illinois, which I reached January 3d, a very cold and bitter day. The ice was forming fast, and there was great danger that the Mississippi River, would become closed to navigation. Admiral Porter, who was at Cairo, gave me a small gunboat (the Juliet), with which I went up to Paducah, to inspect that place, garrisoned by a small force; commanded by Colonel S. G. Hicks, Fortieth Illinois, who had been with me and was severely wounded at Shiloh. Returning to Cairo, we started down the Mississippi River, which was full of floating ice. With the utmost difficulty we made our way through it, for hours floating in the midst of immense cakes, that chafed and ground our boat so that at times we were in danger of sinking. But about the 10th of January we reached Memphis, where I found General Hurlbut, and explained to him my purpose to collect from his garrisons and those of McPherson about twenty thousand men, with which in February to march out from Vicksburg as far as Meridian, break up the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and also the one leading from Vicksburg to Selma, Alabama. I instructed him to select two good divisions, and to be ready with them to go along. At Memphis I found Brigadier-General W. Sooy Smith, with a force of about twentyfive hundred cavalry, which he had by General Grant’s orders brought across from Middle Tennessee, to assist in our general purpose, as well as to punish the rebel General Forrest, who had been most active in harassing our garrisons in West Tennessee and Mississippi. After staying a couple of days at Memphis, we continued on in the gunboat Silver Cloud to Vicksburg, where I found General McPherson, and, giving him similar orders, instructed him to send out spies to ascertain and bring back timely information of the strength and location of the enemy. The winter continued so severe that the river at Vicksburg was full of floating ice, but in the Silver Cloud we breasted it manfully, and got back to Memphis by the 20th. A chief part of the enterprise was to destroy the rebel cavalry commanded by General Forrest, who were a constant threat to our railway communications in Middle Tennessee, and I committed this task to Brigadier-General W. Sooy Smith. General Hurlbut had in his command about seven thousand five hundred cavalry, scattered from Columbus, Kentucky, to Corinth, Mississippi, and we proposed to make up an aggregate cavalry force of about seven thousand “effective,” out of these and the twenty-five hundred which General Smith had brought with him from Middle Tennessee. With this force General Smith was ordered to move from Memphis straight for Meridian, Mississippi, and to start by February 1st. I explained to him personally the nature of Forrest as a man, and of his peculiar force; told him that in his route he was sure to encounter Forrest, who always attacked with a vehemence for which he must be prepared, and that, after he had repelled the first attack, he must in turn assume the most determined offensive, overwhelm him and utterly destroy his whole force. I knew that Forrest could not have more than four thousand cavalry, and my own movement would give employment to every other man of the rebel army not immediately present with him, so that he (General Smith) might safely act on the hypothesis I have stated.

Having completed all these preparations in Memphis, being satisfied that the cavalry force would be ready to start by the 1st of February, and having seen General Hurlbut with his two divisions embark in steamers for Vicksburg, I also reembarked for the same destination on the 27th of January.

On the 1st of February we rendezvoused in Vicksburg, where I found a spy who had been sent out two weeks before, had been to Meridian, and brought back correct information of the state of facts in the interior of Mississippi. Lieutenant-General (Bishop) Polk was in chief command, with headquarters at Meridian, and had two divisions of infantry, one of which (General Loring’s) was posted at Canton, Mississippi, the other (General French’s) at Brandon. He had also two divisions of cavalry–Armstrong’s, composed of the three brigades of Ross, Stark, and Wirt Adams, which were scattered from the neighborhood of Yazoo City to Jackson and below; and Forrest’s, which was united, toward Memphis, with headquarters at Como. General Polk seemed to have no suspicion of our intentions to disturb his serenity.

Accordingly, on the morning of February 3d, we started in two columns, each of two divisions, preceded by a light force of cavalry, commanded by Colonel E. F. Winslow. General McPheraon commanded the right column, and General Hurlbut the left. The former crossed the Big Black at the railroad-bridge, and the latter seven miles above, at Messinger’s. We were lightly equipped as to wagons, and marched without deployment straight for Meridian, distant one hundred and fifty miles. We struck the rebel cavalry beyond the Big Black, and pushed them pell-mell into and beyond Jackson during the 6th. The next day we reached Brandon, and on the 9th Morton, where we perceived signs of an infantry concentration, but the enemy did not give us battle, and retreated before us. The rebel cavalry were all around us, so we kept our columns compact and offered few or no chances for their dashes. As far as Morton we had occupied two roads, but there we were forced into one. Toward evening of the 12th, Hurlbut’s column passed through Decatur, with orders to go into camp four miles beyond at a creek. McPherson’s head of column was some four miles behind, and I personally detached one of Hurlbut’s regiments to guard the cross-roads at Decatur till the head of McPherson’s column should come in sight. Intending to spend the night in Decatur, I went to a double log-house, and arranged with the lady for some supper. We unsaddled our horses, tied them to the fence inside the yard, and, being tired, I lay down on a bed and fell asleep. Presently I heard shouts and hallooing, and then heard pistol-shots close to the house. My aide, Major Audenried, called me and said we were attacked by rebel cavalry, who were all around us. I jumped up and inquired where was the regiment of infantry I had myself posted at the cross-roads. He said a few moments before it had marched past the house, following the road by which General Hurlbut had gone, and I told him to run, overtake it, and bring it back. Meantime, I went out into the back-yard, saw wagons passing at a run down the road, and horsemen dashing about in a cloud of dust, firing their pistols, their shots reaching the house in which we were. Gathering the few orderlies and clerks that were about, I was preparing to get into a corn-crib at the back side of the lot, wherein to defend ourselves, when I saw Audenried coming back with the regiment, on a run, deploying forward as they came. This regiment soon cleared the place and drove the rebel cavalry back toward the south, whence they had come.

It transpired that the colonel of this infantry regiment, whose name I do not recall, had seen some officers of McPherson’s staff (among them Inspector-General Strong) coming up the road at a gallop, raising a cloud of duet; supposing them to be the head of McPherson’s column, and being anxious to get into camp before dark, he had called in his pickets and started down the road, leaving me perfectly exposed. Some straggling wagons, escorted by a New Jersey regiment, were passing at the time, and composed the rear of Hurlbut’s train. The rebel cavalry, seeing the road clear of troops, and these wagons passing, struck them in flank, shot down the mules of three or four wagons, broke the column, and began a general skirmish. The escort defended their wagons as well as they could, and thus diverted their attention; otherwise I would surely have been captured. In a short time the head of McPherson’s column came up, went into camp, and we spent the night in Decatur.

The next day we pushed on, and on the 14th entered Meridian, the enemy retreating before us toward Demopolis, Alabama. We at once set to work to destroy an arsenal, immense storehouses, and the railroad in every direction. We staid in Meridian five days, expecting every hour to hear of General Sooy Smith, but could get no tidings of him whatever. A large force of infantry was kept at work all the time in breaking up the Mobile & Ohio Railroad south and north; also the Jackson & Selma Railroad, east and west. I was determined to damage these roads so that they could not be used again for hostile purposes during the rest of the war. I never had the remotest idea of going to Mobile, but had purposely given out that idea to the people of the country, so as to deceive the enemy and to divert their attention. Many persons still insist that, because we did not go to Mobile on this occasion, I had failed; but in the following letter to General Banks, of January 31st, written from Vicksburg before starting for Meridian, it will be seen clearly that I indicated my intention to keep up the delusion of an attack on Mobile by land, whereas I promised him to be back to Vicksburg by the 1st of March, so as to cooperate with him in his contemplated attack on Shreveport:


Major-General N. P. BANKS, commanding Department of the Gulf, New Orleans.

GENERAL: I received yesterday, at the hands of Captain Durham, aide-de-camp, your letter of the 25th inst., and hasten to reply. Captain Durham has gone to the mouth of White River, en route for Little Rock, and the other officers who accompanied him have gone up to Cairo, as I understand, to charter twenty-five steamboats for the Red River trip. The Mississippi River, though low for the season, is free of ice and in good boating order; but I understand that Red River is still low. I had a man in from Alexandria yesterday, who reported the falls or rapids at that place impassable save by the smallest boats. My inland expedition is now moving, and I will be off for Jackson and Meridian to-morrow. The only fear I have is in the weather. All the other combinations are good. I want to keep up the delusion of an attack on Mobile and the Alabama River, and therefore would be obliged if you would keep up an irritating foraging or other expedition in that direction.

My orders from General Grant will not, as yet, justify me in embarking for Red River, though I am very anxious to move in that direction. The moment I learned that you were preparing for it, I sent a communication to Admiral Porter, and dispatched to General Grant at Chattanooga, asking if he wanted me and Steele to cooperate with you against Shreveport; and I will have his answer in time, for you cannot do any thing till Red River has twelve feet of water on the rapids at Alexandria. That will be from March to June. I have lived on Red River, and know somewhat of the phases of that stream. The expedition on Shreveport should be made rapidly, with simultaneous movements from Little Rock on Shreveport, from Opelousas on Alexandria, and a combined force of gunboats and transports directly up Red River. Admiral Porter will be able to have a splendid fleet by March 1st. I think Steele could move with ten thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry. I could take about ten thousand, and you could, I suppose, have the same. Your movement from Opelousas, simultaneous with mine up the river, would compel Dick Taylor to leave Fort De Russy (near Marksville), and the whole combined force could appear at Shreveport about a day appointed beforehand.

I doubt if the enemy will risk a siege at Shreveport, although I am informed they are fortifying the place, and placing many heavy guns in position. It would be better for us that they should stand there, as we might make large and important captures. But I do not believe the enemy will fight a force of thirty thousand men, acting in concert with gunboats.

I will be most happy to take part in the proposed expedition, and hope, before you have made your final dispositions, that I will have the necessary permission. Half the Army of the Tennessee is near the Tennessee River, beyond Huntsville, Alabama, awaiting the completion of the railroad, and, by present orders, I will be compelled to hasten there to command it in person, unless meantime General Grant modifies the plan. I have now in this department only the force left to hold the river and the posts, and I am seriously embarrassed by the promises made the veteran volunteers for furlough. I think, by March 1st, I can put afloat for Shreveport ten thousand men, provided I succeed in my present movement in cleaning out the State of Mississippi, and in breaking up the railroads about Meridian.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

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

The object of the Meridian expedition was to strike the roads inland, so to paralyze the rebel forces that we could take from the defense of the Mississippi River the equivalent of a corps of twenty thousand men, to be used in the next Georgia campaign; and this was actually done. At the same time, I wanted to destroy General Forrest, who, with an irregular force of cavalry, was constantly threatening Memphis and the river above, as well as our routes of supply in Middle Tennessee. In this we failed utterly, because General W. Sooy Smith did not fulfill his orders, which were clear and specific, as contained in my letter of instructions to him of January 27th, at Memphis, and my personal explanations to him at the same time. Instead of starting at the date ordered, February 1st, he did not leave Memphis till the 11th, waiting for Warings brigade that was ice-bound near Columbus, Kentucky; and then, when he did start, he allowed General Forrest to head him off and to defeat him with an inferior force, near West Point, below Okalona, on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad.

We waited at Meridian till the 20th to hear from General Smith, but hearing nothing whatever, and having utterly destroyed the railroads in and around that junction, I ordered General McPherson to move back slowly toward Canton. With Winslow’s cavalry, and Hurlbut’s infantry, I turned north to Marion, and thence to a place called “Union,” whence I dispatched the cavalry farther north to Philadelphia and Louisville, to feel as it were for General Smith, and then turned all the infantry columna toward Canton, Mississippi. On the 26th we all reached Canton, but we had not heard a word of General Smith, nor was it until some time after (at Vicksburg) that I learned the whole truth of General Smith’s movement and of his failure. Of course I did not and could not approve of his conduct, and I know that he yet chafes under the censure. I had set so much store on his part of the project that I was disappointed, and so reported officially to General Grant. General Smith never regained my confidence as a soldier, though I still regard him as a most accomplished gentleman and a skillful engineer. Since the close of the war he has appealed to me to relieve him of that censure, but I could not do it, because it would falsify history.

Having assembled all my troops in and about Canton, on the 27th of February I left them under the command of the senior major-general, Hurlbut, with orders to remain till about the 3d of March, and then to come into Vicksburg leisurely; and, escorted by Winslow’s cavalry, I rode into Vicksburg on the last day of February. There I found letters from General Grant, at Nashville, and General Banks, at New Orleans, concerning his (General Banks’s) projected movement up Red River. I was authorized by the former to contribute aid to General Banks for a limited time; but General Grant insisted on my returning in person to my own command about Huntsville, Alabama, as soon as possible, to prepare for the spring campaign.

About this time we were much embarrassed by a general order of the War Department, promising a thirty-days furlough to all soldiers who would “veteranize”–viz., reenlist for the rest of the war. This was a judicious and wise measure, because it doubtless secured the services of a very large portion of the men who had almost completed a three-years enlistment, and were therefore veteran soldiers in feeling and in habit. But to furlough so many of our men at that instant of time was like disbanding an army in the very midst of battle.

In order to come to a perfect understanding with General Banks, I took the steamer Diana and ran down to New Orleans to see him. Among the many letters which I found in Vicksburg on my return from Meridian was one from Captain D. F. Boyd, of Louisiana, written from the jail in Natchez, telling me that he was a prisoner of war in our hands; had been captured in Louisiana by some of our scouts; and he bespoke my friendly assistance. Boyd was Professor of Ancient Languages at the Louisiana Seminary of Learning during my administration, in 1859-’60; was an accomplished scholar, of moderate views in politics, but, being a Virginian, was drawn, like all others of his kind, into the vortex of the rebellion by the events of 1861, which broke up colleges and every thing at the South. Natchez, at this time, was in my command, and was held by a strong division, commanded by Brigadier-General J. W. Davidson. In the Diana we stopped at Natchez, and I made a hasty inspection of the place. I sent for Boyd, who was in good health, but quite dirty, and begged me to take him out of prison, and to effect his exchange. I receipted for him; took him along with me to New Orleans; offered him money, which he declined; allowed him to go free in the city; and obtained from General Banks a promise to effect his exchange, which was afterward done. Boyd is now my legitimate successor in Louisiana, viz., President of the Louisiana University, which is the present title of what had been the Seminary of Learning. After the war was over, Boyd went back to Alexandria, reorganized the old institution, which I visited in 1866 but the building was burnt down by an accident or by an incendiary about 1868, and the institution was then removed to Baton Rouge, where it now is, under its new title of the University of Louisiana.

We reached New Orleans on the 2d of March. I found General Banks, with his wife and daughter, living in a good house, and he explained to me fully the position and strength of his troops, and his plans of action for the approaching campaign. I dined with him, and, rough as I was–just out of the woods–attended, that night, a very pleasant party at the house of a lady, whose name I cannot recall, but who is now the wife of Captain Arnold, Fifth United States Artillery. At this party were also Mr. and Mrs. Frank Howe. I found New Orleans much changed since I had been familiar with it in 1853 and in 1860-’61. It was full of officers and soldiers. Among the former were General T. W. Sherman, who had lost a leg at Port Hudson, and General Charles P: Stone, whom I knew so well in California, and who is now in the Egyptian service as chief of staff. The bulk of General Banks’s army was about Opelousas, under command of General Franklin, ready to move on Alexandria. General Banks seemed to be all ready, but intended to delay his departure a few days to assist in the inauguration of a civil government for Louisiana, under Governor Hahn. In Lafayette Square I saw the arrangements of scaffolding for the fireworks and benches for the audience. General Banks urged me to remain over the 4th of March, to participate in the ceremonies, which he explained would include the performance of the “Anvil Chorus” by all the bands of his army, and during the performance the church-bells were to be rung, and cannons were to be fired by electricity. I regarded all such ceremonies as out of place at a time when it seemed to me every hour and every minute were due to the war. General Banks’s movement, however, contemplated my sending a force of ten thousand men in boats up Red River from Vicksburg, and that a junction should occur at Alexandria by March 17th. I therefore had no time to wait for the grand pageant of the 4th of March, but took my departure from New Orleans in the Diana the evening of March 3d.

On the next day, March 4th, I wrote to General Banks a letter, which was extremely minute in conveying to him how far I felt authorized to go under my orders from General Grant. At that time General Grant commanded the Military Division of the Mississippi, embracing my own Department of the Tennessee and that of General Steele in Arkansas, but not that of General Banks in Louisiana. General Banks was acting on his own powers, or under the instructions of General Halleck in Washington, and our, assistance to him was designed as a loan of ten thousand men for a period of thirty days. The instructions of March 6th to General A. J. Smith, who commanded this detachment, were full and explicit on this point. The Diana reached Vicksburg on the 6th, where I found that the expeditionary army had come in from Canton. One division of five thousand men was made up out of Hurlbut’s command, and placed under Brigadier-General T. Kilby Smith; and a similar division was made out of McPherson’s and Hurlbut’s troops, and placed under Brigadier-General Joseph A. Mower; the whole commanded by Brigadier-General A. J. Smith. General Hurlbut, with the rest of his command, returned to Memphis, and General McPherson remained at Vicksburg. General A. J. Smith’s command was in due season embarked, and proceeded to Red River, which it ascended, convoyed by Admiral Porter’s fleet. General Mower’s division was landed near the outlet of the Atchafalaya, marched up by land and captured the fort below Alexandria known as Fort De Russy, and the whole fleet then proceeded up to Alexandria, reaching it on the day appointed, viz., March 17th, where it waited for the arrival of General Banks, who, however, did not come till some days after. These two divisions participated in the whole of General Banks’s unfortunate Red River expedition, and were delayed so long up Red River, and subsequently on the Mississippi, that they did not share with their comrades the successes and glories of the Atlanta campaign, for which I had designed them; and, indeed, they, did not join our army till just in time to assist General George H. Thomas to defeat General Hood before Nashville, on the 15th and 16th of December, 1864.

General Grant’s letter of instructions, which was brought me by General Butterfield, who had followed me to New Orleans, enjoined on me, after concluding with General Banks the details for his Red River expedition, to make all necessary arrangements for furloughing the men entitled to that privilege, and to hurry back to the army at Huntsville, Alabama. I accordingly gave the necessary orders to General McPherson, at Vicksburg, and continued up the river toward Memphis. On our way we met Captain Badeau, of General Grant’s staff, bearing the following letter, of March 4th, which I answered on the 10th, and sent the answer by General Butterfield, who had accompanied me up from New Orleans. Copies of both were also sent to General McPherson, at Vicksburg:



DEAR SHERMAN: The bill reviving the grade of lieutenant-general in the army has become a law, and my name has been sent to the Senate for the place.

I now receive orders to report at Washington immediately, in person, which indicates either a confirmation or a likelihood of confirmation. I start in the morning to comply with the order, but I shall say very distinctly on my arrival there that I shall accept no appointment which will require me to make that city my headquarters. This, however, is not what I started out to write about.

While I have been eminently successful in this war, in at least gaining the confidence of the public, no one feels more than I how much of this success is due to the energy, skill, and the harmonious putting forth of that energy and skill, of those whom it has been my good fortune to have occupying subordinate positions under me.

There are many officers to whom these remarks are applicable to a greater or less degree, proportionate to their ability as soldiers; but what I want is to express my thanks to you and McPherson, as the men to whom, above all others, I feel indebted for whatever I have had of success. How far your advice and suggestions have been of assistance, you know. How far your execution of whatever has been given you to do entitles you to the reward I am receiving, you cannot know as well as I do. I feel all the gratitude this letter would express, giving it the most flattering construction.

The word you I use in the plural, intending it for McPherson also. I should write to him, and will some day, but, starting in the morning, I do not know that I will find time just now. Your friend,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.


NEAR MEMPHIS, March 10, 1864

General GRANT.

DEAR GENERAL: I have your more than kind and characteristic letter of the 4th, and will send a copy of it to General McPherson at once.

You do yourself injustice and us too much honor in assigning to us so large a share of the merits which have led to your high advancement. I know you approve the friendship I have ever professed to you, and will permit me to continue as heretofore to manifest it on all proper occasions.

You are now Washington’s legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue as heretofore to be yourself, simple, honest, and unpretending, you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings who will award to you a large share for securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability.

I repeat, you do General McPherson and myself too much honor. At Belmont you manifested your traits, neither of us being near; at Donelson also you illustrated your whole character. I was not near, and General McPherson in too subordinate a capacity to influence you.

Until you had won Donelson, I confess I was almost cowed by the terrible array of anarchical elements that presented themselves at every point; but that victory admitted the ray of light which I have followed ever since.

I believe you are as brave, patriotic, and just, as the great prototype Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest, as a man should be; but the chief characteristic in your nature is the simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in his Saviour.

This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed your best preparations, you go into battle without hesitation, as at Chattanooga–no doubts, no reserve; and I tell you that it was this that made us act with confidence. I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come–if alive.

My only points of doubt were as to your knowledge of grand strategy, and of books of science and history; but I confess your common-sense seems to have supplied all this.

Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington. Halleck is better qualified than you are to stand the buffets of intrigue and policy. Come out West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley; let us make it dead-sure, and I tell you the Atlantic slope and Pacific shores will follow its destiny as sure as the limbs of a tree live or die with the main trunk! We have done much; still much remains to be done. Time and time’s influences are all with us; we could almost afford to sit still and let these influences work. Even in the seceded States your word now would go further than a President’s proclamation, or an act of Congress.

For God’s sake and for your country’s sake, come out of Washington! I foretold to General Halleck, before he left Corinth, the inevitable result to him, and I now exhort you to come out West. Here lies the seat of the coming empire; and from the West, when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and Richmond, and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic. Your sincere friend,


We reached Memphis on the 13th, where I remained some days, but on the 14th of March received from General Grant a dispatch to hurry to Nashville in person by the 17th, if possible. Disposing of all matters then pending, I took a steamboat to Cairo, the cars thence to Louisville and Nashville, reaching that place on the 17th of March, 1864.

I found General Grant there. He had been to Washington and back, and was ordered to return East to command all the armies of the United States, and personally the Army of the Potomac. I was to succeed him in command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, embracing the Departments of the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Arkansas. General Grant was of course very busy in winding up all matters of business, in transferring his command to me, and in preparing for what was manifest would be the great and closing campaign of our civil war. Mrs. Grant and some of their children were with him, and occupied a large house in Nashville, which was used as an office, dwelling, and every thing combined.

On the 18th of March I had issued orders assuming command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and was seated in the office, when the general came in and said they were about to present him a sword, inviting me to come and see the ceremony. I went back into what was the dining-room of the house; on the table lay a rose-wood box, containing a sword, sash, spurs, etc., and round about the table were grouped Mrs. Grant, Nelly, and one or two of the boys. I was introduced to a large, corpulent gentleman, as the mayor, and another citizen, who had come down from Galena to make this presentation of a sword to their fellow-townsman. I think that Rawlins, Bowers, Badeau, and one or more of General Grant’s personal staff, were present. The mayor rose and in the most dignified way read a finished speech to General Grant, who stood, as usual, very awkwardly; and the mayor closed his speech by handing him the resolutions of the City Council engrossed on parchment, with a broad ribbon and large seal attached. After the mayor had fulfilled his office so well, General Grant said: “Mr. Mayor, as I knew that this ceremony was to occur, and as I am not used to speaking, I have written something in reply.” He then began to fumble in his pockets, first his breast-coat pocket, then his pants, vest; etc., and after considerable delay he pulled out a crumpled piece of common yellow cartridge-paper, which he handed to the mayor. His whole manner was awkward in the extreme, yet perfectly characteristic, and in strong contrast with the elegant parchment and speech of the mayor. When read, however, the substance of his answer was most excellent, short, concise, and, if it had been delivered by word of mouth, would have been all that the occasion required.

I could not help laughing at a scene so characteristic of the man who then stood prominent before the country; and to whom all had turned as the only one qualified to guide the nation in a war that had become painfully critical. With copies of the few letters referred to, and which seem necessary to illustrate the subject-matter, I close this chapter:


Major-General N. P. BANKS, commanding Department of the Gulf, New Orleans.

GENERAL: I had the honor to receive your letter of the 2d instant yesterday at New Orleans, but was unable to answer, except verbally, and I now reduce it to writing.

I will arrive at Vicksburg the 6th instant, and I expect to meet there my command from Canton, out of which I will select two divisions of about ten thousand men, embark them under a good commander, and order him:

1st. To rendezvous at the mouth of Red River, and, in concert with Admiral Porter (if he agree), to strike Harrisonburg a hard blow.

2d. To return to Red River and ascend it, aiming to reach Alexandria on the 17th of March, to report to you.

3d. That, as this command is designed to operate by water, it will not be encumbered with much land transportation, say two wagons to a regiment, but with an ample supply of stores, including mortars and heavy rifled guns, to be used against fortified places.

4th. That I have calculated, and so reported to General Grant, that this detachment of his forces in no event is to go beyond Shreveport, and that you will spare them the moment you can, trying to get them back to the Mississippi River in thirty days from the time they actually enter Red River.

The year is wearing away fast, and I would like to carry to General Grant at Huntsville, Alabama, every man of his military division, as early in April as possible, for I am sure we ought to move from the base of the Tennessee River to the south before the season is too far advanced, say as early as April 15th next.

I feel certain of your complete success, provided you make the concentration in time, to assure which I will see in person to the embarkation and dispatch of my quota, and I will write to General Steele, conveying to him my personal and professional opinion that the present opportunity is the most perfect one that will ever offer itself to him to clean out his enemies in Arkansas.

Wishing you all honor and success, I am, with respect, your friend and servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.


Brigadier-General A. J. SMITH, commanding Expedition up Red River, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

GENERAL: By an order this day issued, you are to command a strong, well-appointed detachment of the Army of the Tennessee, sent to reinforce a movement up Red River, but more especially against the fortified position at Shreveport.

You will embark your command as soon as possible, little encumbered with wagons or wheeled vehicles, but well supplied with fuel, provisions, and ammunition. Take with you the twelve mortars, with their ammunition, and all the thirty-pound Parrotts the ordnance- officer will supply. Proceed to the mouth of Red River and confer with Admiral Porter. Consult with him, and in all the expedition rely on him implicitly, as he is the approved friend of the Army of the Tennessee, and has been associated with us from the beginning. I have undertaken with General Banks that you will be at Alexandria, Louisiana, on or before the 17th day of March; and you will, if time allows, cooperate with the navy in destroying Harrisonburg, up Black River; but as I passed Red River yesterday I saw Admiral Porter, and he told me he had already sent an expedition to Harrisonburg, so that I suppose that part of the plan will be accomplished before you reach Red River; but, in any event, be careful to reach Alexandria about the 17th of March.

General Banks will start by land from Franklin, in the Teche country, either the 6th or 7th, and will march via Opelousas to Alexandria. You will meet him there, report to him, and act under his orders. My understanding with him is that his forces will move by land, via Natchitoches, to Shreveport, while the gunboat-fleet is to ascend the river with your transports in company. Red River is very low for the season, and I doubt if any of the boats can pass the falls or rapids at Alexandria. What General Banks proposes to do in that event I do not know; but my own judgment is that Shreveport ought not to be attacked until the gunboats can reach it. Not that a force marching by land cannot do it alone, but it would be bad economy in war to invest the place with an army so far from heavy guns, mortars, ammunition, and provisions, which can alone reach Shreveport by water. Still, I do not know about General Banks’s plans in that event; and whatever they may be, your duty will be to conform, in the most hearty manner.

My understanding with General Banks is that he will not need the cooperation of your force beyond thirty days from the date you reach Red River. As soon as he has taken Shreveport, or as soon as be can spare you, return to Vicksburg with all dispatch, gather up your detachments, wagons, tents, transportation, and all property pertaining to so much of the command as belongs to the Sixteenth Army Corps, and conduct it to Memphis, where orders will await you. My present belief is your division, entire, will be needed with the Army of the Tennessee, about Huntsville or Bridgeport. Still, I will leave orders with General, Hurlbut, at Memphis, for you on your return.

I believe if water will enable the gunboats to cross the rapids at Alexandria, you will be able to make a quick, strong, and effective blow at our enemy in the West, thus widening the belt of our territory, and making the breach between the Confederate Government and its outlying trans-Mississippi Department more perfect.

It is understood that General Steele makes a simultaneous move from Little Rock, on Shreveport or Natchitoches, with a force of about ten thousand men. Banks will have seventeen thousand, and you ten thousand. If these can act concentrically and simultaneously, you will make short work of it, and then General Banks will have enough force to hold as much of the Red River country as he deems wise, leaving you to bring to General Grant’s main army the seven thousand five hundred men of the Sixteenth Corps now with you. Having faith in your sound judgment and experience, I confide this important and delicate command to you, with certainty that you will harmonize perfectly with Admiral Porter and General Banks, with whom you are to act, and thereby insure success.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


Major General McPHERSON, commanding, etc, Vicksburg, Mississippi

DEAR GENERAL: I wrote you at length on the 11th, by a special bearer of dispatches, and now make special orders to cover the movements therein indicated. It was my purpose to await your answer, but I am summoned by General Grant to be in Nashville on the 17th, and it will keep me moving night and day to get there by that date. I must rely on you, for you understand that we must reenforce the great army at the centre (Chattanooga) as much as possible, at the same time not risking the safety of any point on the Mississippi which is fortified and armed with heavy guns. I want you to push matters as rapidly as possible, and to do all you can to put two handsome divisions of your own corps at Cairo, ready to embark up the Tennessee River by the 20th or 30th of April at the very furthest. I wish it could be done quicker; but the promise of those thirty-days furloughs in the States of enlistment, though politic, is very unmilitary. It deprives us of our ability to calculate as to time; but do the best you can. Hurlbut can do nothing till A. J. Smith returns from Red River. I will then order him to occupy Grenada temporarily, and to try and get those locomotives that we need here. I may also order him with cavalry and infantry to march toward Tuscaloosa, at the same time that we move from the Tennessee River about Chattanooga.

I don’t know as yet the grand strategy of the next campaign, but on arrival at Nashville I will soon catch the main points, and will advise you of them..

Steal a furlough and run to Baltimore incog.; but get back in time to take part in the next grand move.

Write me fully and frequently of your progress. I have ordered the quartermaster to send down as many boats as he can get, to facilitate your movements. Mules, wagons, etc., can come up afterward by transient boats. I am truly your friend,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

[Special Field Order No. 28.]


1. Major-General McPherson will organize two good divisions of his corps (Seventeenth) of about five thousand men, each embracing in part the reenlisted veterans of his corps whose furloughs will expire in April, which he will command in person, and will rendezvous at Cairo, Illinois, and report by telegraph and letter to the general commanding at department headquarters, wherever they may be. These divisions will be provided with new arms and accoutrements, and land transportation (wagons and mules) out of the supplies now at Vicksburg, which will be conveyed to Cairo by or before April 15th.

4. During the absence of General McPherson from the district of Vicksburg, Major-General Hurlbut will exercise command over all the troops in the Department of the Tennessee from Cairo to Natchez, inclusive, and will receive special instructions from department headquarters.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman:

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



Report of Brigadier-General G. W. Morgan.

January 8, 1868.

Major J. H. HAMMOND, Chief of Staff:

SIR: On the 1st instant, while pressed by many arduous duties, I was requested to report to the commanding general the operations of my division during the affair of the 27th, the action of the 28th, and the battle of the 29th ult.

I had not received the report of subordinate commanders, nor had I time to review the report I have the honor to submit.

Herewith I have the honor to forward these reports, connected with which I will submit a few remarks.

Brigadier-General Blair speaks of having discovered, while on his retreat from the enemy’s works, a broad and easy road running from the left of my position to the enemy’s lines. The road is neither broad nor easy, and was advanced over by De Courcey when leading his brigade to the charge. The road General Blair speaks of is the one running from Lake’s Landing and intersecting with the Vicksburg road on the Chickasaw Bluffs. Its existence was known to me on the 28th ult., but it was left open intentionally by the enemy, and was commanded by a direct and cross fire from batteries and rifle-pits. The withdrawal of his brigade from the assault by Colonel De Courcey was justified by the failure of the corps of A. J. Smith, and the command of Colonel Lindsey, to advance simultaneously to the assault. Both had the same difficulties to encounter– impassable bayous. The enemy’s line of battle was concave, and De Courcey advanced against his centre–hence he sustained a concentric fire, and the withdrawal of Steele from the front of the enemy’s right on the 28th ult. enabled the enemy on the following day to concentrate his right upon his centre.

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

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

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

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

GEORGE W. MORGAN, Brigadier-General Volunteers.

CINCINNATI, February 8, 1876.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The above statement was sent to General Sherman in a letter dated “Chicago, February 5,1876,” and signed “John H. Hammond.” Hammond was General Sherman’s assistant adjutant-general at the Chickasaw Bayou.
J. E. TOURTELOTTE, Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

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

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



Extracts from Admiral Porter’s Journal.

Sherman and I had made arrangements to capture Arkansas Post.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CINCINNATI, February 3, 1876

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

During the attack, nobody seemed to think McClernand had any clear idea of what or how it was to be done. During the day he gave you no directions, nor came where you were; he was well to the rear,