Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

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weight raised from our breasts, or so thankful for a most fruitful

series of victories. They at once gave Generals Halleck, Grant,

and C. F. Smith, great fame. Of course, the rebels let go their

whole line, and fell back on Nashville and Island No. Ten, and to

the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Everybody was anxious to help.

Boats passed up and down constantly, and very soon arrived the

rebel prisoners from Donelson. I saw General Buckner on the boat,

he seemed self-sufficient, and thought their loss was not really so

serious to their cause as we did.

About this time another force of twenty or twenty-five thousand men

was collected on the west bank of the Mississippi, above Cairo,

under the command of Major-General John Pope, designed to become

the "Army of the Mississippi," and to operate, in conjunction with

the navy, down the river against the enemy's left flank, which had

held the strong post of Columbus, Kentucky, but which, on the fall

of Fort Donelson, had fallen back to New Madrid and Island No. 10.




By the end of February, 1862, Major-General Halleck commanded all

the armies in the valley of the Mississippi, from his headquarters

in St: Louis. These were, the Army of the Ohio, Major-General

Buell, in Kentucky; the Army of the Tennessee, Major-General Grant,

at Forts Henry and Donelson; the Army of the Mississippi,

Major-General Pope; and that of General S. R. Curtis, in Southwest

Missouri. He posted his chief of staff, General Cullum, at Cairo,

and me at Paducah, chiefly to expedite and facilitate the important

operations then in progress up the Tennessee, and Cumberland


Fort Donelson had surrendered to General Grant on the 16th of

February, and there must have been a good deal of confusion

resulting from the necessary care of the wounded, and disposition

of prisoners, common to all such occasions, and there was a real

difficulty in communicating between St. Louis and Fort Donelson.

General Buell had also followed up the rebel army, which had

retreated hastily from Bowling Green to and through Nashville, a

city of so much importance to the South, that it was at one time

proposed as its capital. Both Generals Grant and Buell looked to

its capture as an event of great importance. On the 21st General

Grant sent General Smith with his division to Clarksville, fifty

miles above Donelson, toward Nashville, and on the 27th went

himself to Nashville to meet and confer with General Buell, but

returned to Donelson the next day.

Meantime, General Halleek at St. Louis must have felt that his

armies were getting away from him, and began to send dispatches to

me at Paducah, to be forwarded by boat, or by a rickety

telegraph-line up to Fort Henry, which lay entirely in a hostile

country, and was consequently always out of repair. On the 1st of

March I received the following dispatch, and forwarded it to

General Grant, both by the telegraph and boat:

To General GRANT, Fort Henry

Transports will be sent you as soon as possible, to move your

column up the Tennessee River. The main object of this expedition

will be to destroy the railroad-bridge over Bear Creek, near

Eastport, Mississippi; and also the railroad connections at

Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt. It is thought best that these

objects be attempted in the order named. Strong detachments of

cavalry and light artillery, supported by infantry, may by rapid

movements reach these points from the river, without any serious


Avoid any general engagements with strong forces. It will be

better to retreat than to risk a general battle. This should be

strongly impressed on the officers sent with expeditions from the

river. General C. F. Smith or some very discreet officer should be

selected for such commands. Having accomplished these objects, or

such of them as may be practicable, you will return to Danville,

and move on Paris.

Perhaps the troops sent to Jackson and Humbolt can reach Paris by

land as easily as to return to the transports. This must depend on

the character of the roads and the position of the enemy. All

telegraphic lines which can be reached must be cut. The gunboats

will accompany the transports for their protection. Any loyal

Tenneaseeans who desire it, may be enlisted and supplied with arms.

Competent officers should be left to command Forts Henry and

Donelson in your absence. I have indicated in general terms the

object of this.

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

Again on the 2d:

Cairo, March 1, 1862

To General GRANT:

General Halleck, February 25th, telegraphs me: "General Grant will

send no more forces to Clarksville. General Smith's division will

come to Fort Henry, or a point higher up on the Tennessee River;

transports will also be collected at Paducah. Two gunboats in

Tennessee River with Grant. General Grant will immediately have

small garrisons detailed for Forts Henry and Donelson, and all

other forces made ready for the field"

From your letter of the 28th, I learn you were at Fort Donelson,

and General Smith at Nashville, from which I infer you could not

have received orders. Halleck's telegram of last night says: "Who

sent Smith's division to Nashville? I ordered it across to the

Tennessee, where they are wanted immediately. Order them back.

Send all spare transports up Tennessee to General Grant."

Evidently the general supposes you to be on the Tennessee. I am

sending all the transports I can find for you, reporting to General

Sherman for orders to go up the Cumberland for you, or, if you

march accross to Fort Henry, then to send them up the Tennessee.

G. W. CULLUM, Brigadier-General.

On the 4th came this dispatch:

To Major-General U. S. GRANT

You will place Major-General C. F. Smith in command of expedition,

and remain yourself at Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders

to report strength and positions of your command?

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

Halleck was evidently working himself into a passion, but he was

too far from the seat of war to make due allowance for the actual

state of facts. General Grant had done so much, that General

Halleck should have been patient. Meantime, at Paducah, I was busy

sending boats in every direction--some under the orders of General

Halleck, others of General Cullum; others for General Grant, and

still others for General Buell at Nashville; and at the same time I

was organizing out of the new troops that were arriving at Paducah

a division for myself when allowed to take the field, which I had

been promised by General Halleck. His purpose was evidently to

operate up the Tennessee River, to break up Bear Creek Bridge and

the railroad communications between the Mississippi and Tennessee

Rivers, and no doubt he was provoked that Generals Grant and Smith

had turned aside to Nashville. In the mean time several of the

gunboats, under Captain Phelps, United States Navy, had gone up the

Tennessee as far as Florence, and on their return had reported a

strong Union feeling among the people along the river. On the 10th

of March, having received the necessary orders from General

Halleck, I embarked my division at Paducah. It was composed of

four brigades. The First, commanded by Colonel S. G. Hicks, was

composed of the Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio, and Morton's

Indiana Battery, on the boats Sallie List, Golden Gate, J. B.

Adams, and Lancaster.

The Second Brigade, Colonel D. Stuart, was composed of the

Fifty-fifth Illinois, Seventy-first Ohio, and Fifty-fourth Ohio;

embarked on the Hannibal, Universe, Hazel Dell, Cheeseman, and

Prairie Rose.

The Third Brigade, Colonel Hildebrand, was composed of the

Seventy-seventh Ohio, Fifty-seventh Ohio, and Fifty-third Ohio;

embarked on the Poland, Anglo-Saxon, Ohio No. Three, and


The Fourth Brigade, Colonel Buckland, was composed of the

Seventy-second Ohio, Forty-eighth Ohio, and Seventieth Ohio;

embarked on the Empress, Baltic, Shenango, and Marrengo.

We steamed up to Fort Henry, the river being high and in splendid

order. There I reported in person to General C. F. Smith, and by

him was ordered a few miles above, to the remains of the burned

railroad bridge, to await the rendezvous of the rest of his army.

I had my headquarters on the Continental.

Among my colonels I had a strange character--Thomas Worthington,

colonel of the Forty-sixth Ohio. He was a graduate of West Point,

of the class of 1827; was, therefore, older than General Halleck,

General Grant, or myself, and claimed to know more of war than all

of us put together. In ascending the river he did not keep his

place in the column, but pushed on and reached Savannah a day

before the rest of my division. When I reached that place, I found

that Worthington had landed his regiment, and was flying about

giving orders, as though he were commander-in-chief. I made him

get back to his boat, and gave him to understand that he must

thereafter keep his place. General C. F. Smith arrived about the

13th of March, with a large fleet of boats, containing Hurlbut's

division, Lew. Wallace's division, and that of himself, then

commanded by Brigadier-General W. H. L. Wallace.

General Smith sent for me to meet him on his boat, and ordered me

to push on under escort of the two gunboats, Lexington and Tyler,

commanded by Captains Gwin and Shirk, United States Navy. I was to

land at some point below Eastport, and make a break of the Memphis

& Charleston Railroad, between Tuscumbia and Corinth. General

Smith was quite unwell, and was suffering from his leg, which was

swollen and very sore, from a mere abrasion in stepping

into a small boat. This actually mortified, and resulted in his

death about a month after, viz., April 25, 1862. He was ad-

jutant of the Military Academy during the early part of my

career there, and afterward commandant of cadets. He was a very

handsome and soldierly man, of great experience, and at Donelson

had acted with so much personal bravery that to him many attributed

the success of the assault.

I immediately steamed up the Tennessee River, following the two

gunboats, and, in passing Pittsburg Landing, was told by Captain

Gwin that, on his former trip up the river, he had found a rebel

regiment of cavalry posted there, and that it was the usual

landing-place for the people about Corinth, distant thirty miles.

I sent word back to General Smith that, if we were detained up the

river, he ought to post some troops at Pittsburg Landing. We went

on up the river cautiously, till we saw Eastport and Chickasaw,

both of which were occupied by rebel batteries and a small rebel

force of infantry.

We then dropped back quietly to the mouth of Yellow River, a few

miles below, whence led a road to Burnsville, a place on the

Memphis & Charleston road, where were the company's repair-shops.

We at once commenced disembarking the command: first the cavalry,

which started at once for Burnsville, with orders to tear up the

railroad-track, and burn the depots, shops, etc; and I followed

with the infantry and artillery as fast as they were disembarked.

It was raining very hard at the time. Daylight found us about six

miles out, where we met the cavalry returning. They had made

numerous attempts to cross the streams, which had become so swollen

that mere brooks covered the whole bottom; and my aide-de-camp,

Sanger, whom I had dispatched with the cavalry, reported the loss,

by drowning, of several of the men. The rain was pouring in

torrents, and reports from the rear came that the river was rising

very fast, and that, unless we got back to our boats soon, the

bottom would be simply impassable. There was no alternative but to

regain our boats; and even this was so difficult, that we had to

unharness the artillery-horses, and drag the guns under water

through the bayous, to reach the bank of the river. Once more

embarked, I concluded to drop down to Pittsburg Landing, and to

make the attempt from there. During the night of the 14th, we

dropped down to Pittsburg Landing, where I found Hurlbut's division

in boats. Leaving my command there, I steamed down to Savannah,

and reported to General Smith in person, who saw in the flooded

Tennessee the full truth of my report; and he then instructed me to

disembark my own division, and that of General Hurlbut, at

Pittsburg Landing; to take positions well back, and to leave room

for his whole army; telling me that he would soon come up in

person, and move out in force to make the lodgment on the railroad,

contemplated by General Halleck's orders.

Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson, of General C. F. Smith's, or rather

General Halleck's, staff, returned with me, and on the 16th of

March we disembarked and marched out about ten miles toward

Corinth, to a place called Monterey or Pea Ridge, where the rebels

had a cavalry regiment, which of course decamped on our approach,

but from the people we learned that trains were bringing large

masses of men from every direction into Corinth. McPherson and I

reconnoitred the ground well, and then returned to our boats. On

the 18th, Hurlbut disembarked his division and took post about a

mile and a half out, near where the roads branched, one leading to

Corinth and the other toward Hamburg. On the 19th I disembarked my

division, and took post about three miles back, three of the

brigades covering the roads to Purdy and Corinth, and the other

brigade (Stuart's) temporarily at a place on the Hamburg Road, near

Lick Creek Ford, where the Bark Road came into the Hamburg Road.

Within a few days, Prentiss's division arrived and camped on my

left, and afterward McClernand's and W. H. L. Wallace's divisions,

which formed a line to our rear. Lew Wallace's division remained

on the north side of Snake Creek, on a road leading from Savannah

or Cramp's Landing to Purdy.

General C. F. Smith remained back at Savannah, in chief command,

and I was only responsible for my own division. I kept pickets

well out on the roads, and made myself familiar with all the ground

inside and outside my lines. My personal staff was composed of

Captain J. H. Hammond, assistant adjutant-general; Surgeons

Hartshorn and L'Hommedieu; Lieutenant Colonels Hascall and Sanger,

inspector-generals; Lieutenants McCoy and John Taylor,

aides-de-camp. We were all conscious that the enemy was collecting

at Corinth, but in what force we could not know, nor did we know

what was going on behind us. On the 17th of March, General U. S.

Grant was restored to the command of all the troops up the

Tennessee River, by reason of General Smith's extreme illness, and

because he had explained to General Halleck satisfactorily his

conduct after Donelson; and he too made his headquarters at

Savannah, but frequently visited our camps. I always acted on the

supposition that we were an invading army; that our purpose was to

move forward in force, make a lodgment on the Memphis & Charleston

road, and thus repeat the grand tactics of Fort Donelson, by

separating the rebels in the interior from those at Memphis and on

the Mississippi River. We did not fortify our camps against an

attack, because we had no orders to do so, and because such a

course would have made our raw men timid. The position was

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