Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

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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,

with his "man up a tree," who in the capacity of a lookout gave

McClernand information, from which he based such instructions as he

made to his subordinates. He was free to express himself as being

a man of "destiny," and his "star" was in the ascendance. I am,

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