Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


Text to Speech

Lieutenant-Colonel John M. Corse; Fortieth Illinois, Colonel J. W.

Booth; Forty-sixth Ohio, Colonel O. C. Walcutt; Thirteenth United

States Infantry, First Battalion, Major D. Chase.

Third Brigade, Brigadier-General J. W. DENVER.--Forty-eighth Ohio,

Colonel P. J. Sullivan; Fifty-third Ohio, Colonel W. S. Jones;

Seventieth Ohio, Colonel J. R. Cockerill.

Fourth Brigade, Colonel DAVID STUART.--Fifty-fifth Illinois,

Colonel O. Malmburg; Fifty-seventh Ohio, Colonel W. Mungen;

Eighty-third Indiana, Colonel B. Spooner; One Hundred and Sixteenth

Illinois, Colonel Tupper; One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois,

Lieutenant-Colonel Eldridge.

Fifth Brigade, Colonel R. P. BUCKLAND.--Seventy-second Ohio,

Lieutenant-Colonel D. W. C. Loudon; Thirty-second Wisconsin,

Colonel J. W. Howe; Ninety-third Indiana, Colonel Thomas;

Ninety-third Illinois, Major J. M. Fisher.

Subsequently, Brigadier-General J. G. Lauman arrived at Memphis,

and I made up a sixth brigade, and organized these six brigades

into three divisions, under Brigadier-Generals M. L. Smith, J. W.

Denver, and J. G. Lauman.

About the 17th of November I received an order from General Grant,

dated:

LAGRANGE, November 16, 1862.

Meet me at Columbus, Kentucky, on Thursday next. If you have a

good map of the country south of you, take it up with you.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I started forthwith by boat, and met General Grant, who had reached

Columbus by the railroad from Jackson, Tennessee. He explained to

me that he proposed to move against Pemberton, then intrenched on a

line behind the Tallahatchie River below Holly Springs; that he

would move on Holly Springs and Abberville, from Grand Junction;

that McPherson, with the troops at Corinth, would aim to make

junction with him at Holly Springs; and that he wanted me to leave

in Memphis a proper garrison, and to aim for the Tallahatchie, so

as to come up on his right by a certain date. He further said that

his ultimate object was to capture Vicksburg, to open the

navigation of the Mississippi River, and that General Halleck had

authorized him to call on the troops in the Department of Arkansas,

then commanded by General S. R. Curtis, for cooperation. I

suggested to him that if he would request General Curtis to send an

expedition from some point on the Mississippi, near Helena, then

held in force, toward Grenada, to the rear of Pemberton, it would

alarm him for the safety of his communications, and would assist us

materially in the proposed attack on his front. He authorized me

to send to the commanding officer at Helena a request to that

effect, and, as soon as I reached Memphis, I dispatched my aide,

Major McCoy, to Helena, who returned, bringing me a letter from

General Frederick Steele, who had just reached Helena with

Osterhaus's division, and who was temporarily in command, General

Curtis having gone to St. Louis. This letter contained the

assurance that he "would send from Friar's Point a large force

under Brigadier-General A. P. Hovey in the direction of Grenada,

aiming to reach the Tallahatchie at Charleston, on the next Monday,

Tuesday, or Wednesday (December 1st) at furthest." My command was

appointed to start on Wednesday, November 24th, and meantime

MajorGeneral S. A. Hurlbut, having reported for duty, was assigned

to the command of Memphis, with four regiments of infantry one

battery of artillery, two companies of Thielman's cavalry and the

certain prospect of soon receiving a number of new regiments, known

to be en route.

I marched out of Memphis punctually with three small divisions,

taking different roads till we approached the Tallahatchie, when we

converged on Wyatt to cross the river, there a bold, deep stream,

with a newly-constructed fort behind. I had Grierson's Sixth

Illinois Cavalry with me, and with it opened communication with

General Grant when we were abreast of Holly Springs. We reached

Wyatt on the 2d day of December without the least opposition, and

there learned that Pemberton's whole army had fallen back to the

Yalabusha near Grenada, in a great measure by reason of the

exaggerated reports concerning the Helena force, which had reached

Charleston; and some of General Hovey's cavalry, under General

Washburn, having struck the railroad in the neighborhood of

Coffeeville, naturally alarmed General Pemberton for the safety of

his communications, and made him let go his Tallahatchie line with

all the forts which he had built at great cost in labor. We had to

build a bridge at Wyatt, which consumed a couple of days, and on

the 5th of December my whole command was at College Hill, ten miles

from Oxford, whence I reported to General Grant in Oxford.

On the 8th I received the following letter:

OXFORD MISSISSIPPI, December 8, 1862--Morning

General SHERMAN, College Hill.

DEAR GENERAL: The following is a copy of dispatch just received

from Washington:

WASHINGTON, December 7, 1862--12M

General GRANT:

The capture of Grenada may change our plans in regard to Vicksburg.

You will move your troops as you may deem best to accomplish the

great object in view. You will retain, till further orders, all

troops of General Curtis now in your department. Telegraph to

General Allen in St. Louis for all steamboats you may require. Ask

Porter to cooperate. Telegraph what are your present plans.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in.-Chief.

I wish you would come over this evening and stay to-night, or come

in the morning. I would like to talk with you about this matter.

My notion is to send two divisions back to Memphis, and fix upon a

day when they should effect a landing, and press from here with

this command at the proper time to cooperate. If I do not do this

I will move our present force to Grenada, including Steele's,

repairing road as we proceed, and establish a depot of provisions

there. When a good ready is had, to move immediately on Jackson,

Mississippi, cutting loose from the road. Of the two plans I look

most favorably on the former.

Come over and we will talk this matter over.

Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I repaired at once to Oxford, and found General Grant in a large

house with all his staff, and we discussed every possible chance.

He explained to me that large reenforcements had been promised,

which would reach Memphis very soon, if not already there; that the

entire gunboat fleet, then under the command of Admiral D. D.

Porter, would cooperate; that we could count on a full division

from the troops at Helena; and he believed that, by a prompt

movement, I could make a lodgment up the Yazoo and capture

Vicksburg from the rear; that its garrison was small, and he, at

Oxford, would so handle his troops as to hold Pemberton away from

Vicksburg. I also understood that, if Pemberton should retreat

south, he would follow him up, and would expect to find me at the

Yazoo River, if not inside of Vicksburg. I confess, at that moment

I did not dream that General McClernand, or anybody else, was

scheming for the mere honor of capturing Vicksburg. We knew at the

time that General Butler had been reenforced by General Banks at

New Orleans, and the latter was supposed to be working his way

up-stream from New Orleans, while we were working down. That day

General Grant dispatched to General Halleck, in Washington, as

follows:

OXFORD, December 8, 1862.

Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

General Sherman will command the expedition down the Mississippi.

He will have a force of about forty thousand men; will land above

Vicksburg (up the Yazoo, if practicable), and out the Mississippi

Central road and the road running east from Vicksburg, where they

cross Black River. I will cooperate from here, my movements

depending on those of the enemy. With the large cavalry force now

at my command, I will be able to have them show themselves at

different points on the Tallahatchie and Yalabusha; and, when an

opportunity occurs, make a real attack. After cutting the two

roads, General Sherman's movements to secure the end desired will

necessarily be left to his judgment.

I will occupy this road to Coffeeville.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I was shown this dispatch before it was sent, and afterward the

general drew up for me the following letter of instructions in his

own handwriting, which I now possess:

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS

DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,

OXFORD, Mississippi, December 8, 1862.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Right Wing Army In the

Field, present.

GENERAL: You will proceed with as little delay as practicable to

Memphis, Tennessee, taking with you one division of your present

command. On your arrival at Memphis you will assume command of all

the troops there, and that portion of General Curtis's forces at

present east of the Mississippi River, and organize them into

brigades and divisions in your own way.

As soon as possible move with them down the river to the vicinity

of Vicksburg, and, with the cooperation of the gunboat fleet under

command of Flag-Officer Porter, proceed to the reduction of that

place in such manner as circumstances and your own judgment may

dictate.

The amount of rations, forage, land transportation, etc., necessary

to take, will be left entirely to yourself.

The quartermaster in St. Louis will be instructed to send you

transportation for thirty thousand men. Should you still find

yourself deficient, your quartermaster will be authorized to make

up the deficiency from such transports as may come into the port of

Memphis.

On arriving in Memphis put yourself in communication with Admiral

Porter, and arrange with him for his cooperation.

Inform me at the earliest practicable day of the time when you will

embark, and such plans as may then be matured. I will hold the

forces here in readiness to cooperate with you in such manner as

the movements of the enemy may make necessary.

Leave the District of Memphis in the command of an efficient

officer and with a garrison of four regiments of infantry, the

siege-guns, and what ever cavalry force may be there.

One regiment of infantry and at least a section of artillery will

also be left at Friar's Point or Delta, to protect the stores of

the cavalry post that will be left there. Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I also insert here another letter, dated the 14th instant, sent

afterward to me at Memphis, which completes all instructions

received by me governing the first movement against Vicksburg:

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE

OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI, December 14, 1862

Major-General SHERMAN, commanding, etc.,

Memphis, Tennessee

I have not had one word from Grierson since he left, and am getting

uneasy about him. I hope General Gorman will give you no

difficulty about retaining the troops on this side the river, and

Steele to command them. The twenty-one thousand men you have, with

the twelve thousand from Helena, will make a good force. The enemy

are as yet on the Yalabusha. I am pushing down on them slowly, but

so as to keep up the impression of a continuous move. I feel

particularly anxious to have the Helena cavalry on this side of the

river; if not now, at least after you start. If Gorman will send

them, instruct them where to go and how to communicate with me. My

headquarters will probably be in Coffeeville one week hence.... In

the mean time I will order transportation, etc.... It would be well

if you could have two or three small boats suitable for navigating

the Yazoo. It may become necessary for me to look to that base for

supplies before we get through....

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

When we rode to Oxford from College Hill, there happened a little

circumstance which seems worthy of record. While General Van Dorn

had his headquarters in Holly Springs, viz., in October, 1862, he

was very short of the comforts and luxuries of life, and resorted

to every possible device to draw from the abundant supplies in

Memphis. He had no difficulty whatever in getting spies into the

town for information, but he had trouble in getting bulky supplies

out through our guards, though sometimes I connived at his supplies

of cigars, liquors, boots, gloves, etc., for his individual use;

but medicines and large supplies of all kinds were confiscated, if

attempted to be passed out. As we rode that morning toward Oxford,

I observed in a farmer's barn-yard a wagon that looked like a city

furniture-wagon with springs. We were always short of wagons, so I

called the attention of the quartermaster, Colonel J. Condit Smith,

saying, "There is a good wagon; go for it." He dropped out of the

retinue with an orderly, and after we had ridden a mile or so he

overtook us, and I asked him, "What luck?" He answered, "All

right; I have secured that wagon, and I also got another," and

explained that he had gone to the farmer's house to inquire about

the furniture-wagon, when the farmer said it did not belong to him,

but to some party in Memphis, adding that in his barn was another

belonging to the same party. They went to the barn, and there

found a handsome city hearse, with pall and plumes. The farmer

said they had had a big funeral out of Memphis, but when it reached

his house, the coffin was found to contain a fine assortment of

medicines for the use of Van Dorn's army. Thus under the pretense

of a first-class funeral, they had carried through our guards the

very things we had tried to prevent. It was a good trick, but

diminished our respect for such pageants afterward.

As soon as I was in possession of General Grant's instructions of

December 8th, with a further request that I should dispatch Colonel

Grierson, with his cavalry, across by land to Helena, to notify

General Steele of the general plan, I returned to College Hill,

selected the division of Brigadier-General Morgan L. Smith to

return with me to Memphis; started Grierson on his errand to

Helena, and ordered Generals Denver and Lauman to report to General

Grant for further orders. We started back by the most direct

route, reached Memphis by noon of December 12th, and began

immediately the preparations for the Vicksburg movement. There I

found two irregular divisions which had arrived at Memphis in my

absence, commanded respectively by Brigadier-General A. J. Smith

and Brigadier-General George W. Morgan. These were designated the

First and Third Divisions, leaving the Second Division of Morgan Z.

Smith to retain its original name and number.

I also sent orders, in the name of General Grant, to General

Gorman, who meantime had replaced General Steele in command of

Helena, in lieu of the troops which had been east of the

Mississippi and had returned, to make up a strong division to

report to me on my way down. This division was accordingly

organized, and was commanded by Brigadier-General Frederick Steele,

constituting my Fourth Division.

Meantime a large fleet of steamboats was assembling from St. Louis

and Cairo, and Admiral Porter dropped down to Memphis with his

whole gunboat fleet, ready to cooperate in the movement. The

preparations were necessarily hasty in the extreme, but this was

the essence of the whole plan, viz., to reach Vicksburg as it were

by surprise, while General Grant held in check Pemberton's army

about Grenada, leaving me to contend only with the smaller garrison

of Vicksburg and its well-known strong batteries and defenses. On

the 19th the Memphis troops were embarked, and steamed down to

Helena, where on the 21st General Steele's division was also

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