Doc. 25.-the siege of Vicalb Ksburgh, Miss.
General Grant's official report.1
headquarters Department of the Tennessee, Vicksburgh, Miss., July 6, 1863.Colonel: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the army of the Tennessee, and cooperating forces, from the date of my assuming the immediate command of the expedition against Vicksburgh, Mississippi, to the reduction of that place. From the moment of taking command in person, I became satisfied that Vicksburgh could only be turned from. the south side, and, in accordance with this conviction, I prosecuted the work on the canal, which had been located by Brigadier-General Williams, across the peninsula, on the Louisiana side of the river, with all vigor, hoping to make a channel which would pass transports for moving the army and carrying supplies to the new base of operations thus provided. The task was much more herculean than it at first appeared, and was made much more so by the almost continuous rains that fell during the whole of the time this work was prosecuted. The river, too, continued to rise and make a large expenditure of labor necessary to keep the water out of our camps and the canal. Finally, on the eighth of March, the rapid rise of the river and the consequent great pressure upon the dam across the canal, near the upper end, at the main Mississippi levee, caused it to give way and let through the low lands back of our camps a torrent of water that separated the north and south shores of the peninsula as effectually as if the Mississippi flowed between them. This occurred when the enterprise promised success within a short time. There was some delay in trying to repair damages. It was found, however, that with the then stage of water, some other plan would have to be adopted for. getting below Vicksburgh with transports. Captain F. L. Prime, Chief Engineer, and Colonel G. G. Pride, who was acting on my staff, prospected a route through the bayous which run from near Milliken's Bend on the north, and New-Carthage on the south, through Roundaway Bayou into the Tansas River. Their report of the practicability of this route determined me to commence work upon it. Having three dredgeboats at the time, the work of opening this route was executed with great rapidity, One small steamer and a number of barges were taken through the channel thus opened, but the river commencing about the middle of April to fall rapidly, and the roads becoming passable between Milliken's Bend and New-Carthage, made it impracticable and unnecessary to open water communication between these points. Soon after commencing the first canal spoken of, I caused a channel to be cut from the Mississippi River into Lake Providence; also one from the Mississippi River into Coldwater, by way of Yazoo Pass. I had no great expectations of important results from the former of these, but having more troops than could be employed to advantage at Young's Point, and knowing that Lake Providence was connected by Bayou Baxter with Bayou Macon, a navigable stream through which transports might pass into the Mississippi below, through Tansas, Wachita, and Red Rivers, I thought it possible that a route might be opened in that direction which would enable me to cooperate with General Banks at Port Hudson. By the Yazoo Pass route I only expected at first to get into the Yazoo by way of Coldwater and Tallahatchie with some lighter gunboats and a few troops, and destroy the enemy's transports in that stream and some gunboats which I knew he was building. The navigation, however, proved so much better than had been expected, that I thought for a time of the possibility of making this the route for obtaining a foothold on high land above Haines's Bluff, Mississippi, and small-class steamers were accordingly ordered for transporting an army that way. Major-General J. B. McPherson, commanding Seventeenth army corps, was directed to hold his corps in readiness to move by this route; and one division from each of the Thirteenth and Fifteenth corps were collected near the entrance of the Pass to be added to his command. It soon became evident that a sufficient number of boats of the right class could not be obtained for the movement of more than one division. While my forces were opening one end of the Pass, the enemy was diligently closing the other end, and in this way succeeded in gaining time to strongly fortify Greenwood, below the junction of the Tallahatchie and Yallobusha. The advance of the expedition, consisting of one division of McClernand's corps, from Helena, commanded by Brigadier-General L. F. Ross, and the Twelfth and Seventeenth regiments Missouri infantry, from Sherman's corps, as sharp-shooters on the gunboats, succeeded in reaching Coldwater on the second day of March, after much difficulty, and the partial disabling of most of the boats. From the entrance into Coldwater to Fort Pemberton, at Greenwood, Mississippi, no great difficulty of navigation was experienced, nor any interruption of magnitude from the enemy. Fort Pemberton extends from the Tallahatchie to the Yazoo, at Greenwood. Here the two rivers come  within a few hundred yards of each other. The land around, the Fort is low, and at the time of the attack was entirely overflowed. Owing to this fact, no movement could be made by the army to reduce it, but all depended upon the ability of the gunboats to silence the guns of the enemy, and enable the transports to run down, and land troops immediately on the Fort itself. After an engagement of several hours, the gun-boats drew off, being unable to silence the batteres. Brigadier-General J. F. Quimby, commanding a division of McPherson's corps, met the expedition under Ross, with his division on its retarn, near Fort Pemberton, on the twenty-first of March, and being the senior, assumed the command of the entire expedition, and returned to the position Ross had occupied. On the twenty-third day of March, I sent orders for the withdrawal of all the forces operating in that direction, for the purpose of concentrating my army at Milliken's Bend. On the fourteenth day of March, Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding Mississippi squadron, informed me that he had made a reconnoissance up Steele's Bayou, and partially through Black Bayou toward Deer Creek, and so far as explored, these water-courses were reported navigable for the smaller iron-clads. Information given mostly, I believe, by the negroes of the country, was to the effect that Deer Creek could be navigated to Rolling Fork, and that from, there through the Sunflower to the Yazoo River there was no question about the navigation. On the following morning I accompanied Admiral Porter in the ram Price, several iron-clads preceding us, up through Steele's Bayou, to near Black Bayou. At this time our forces were at a dead-lock at Greenwood, and I looked upon the success of this enterprise as of vast importance. It would, if successful, leave Greenwood between two forces of ours, and would necessarily cause the immediate abandonment of that stronghold. About thirty steamers of the enemy would been destroyed or fallen into our hands. Seeing that the great obstacle to navigation, so far as I had gone, was from overhanging trees, I left Admiral Porter near Black Bayou, and pushed back to Young's Point for the purpose of sending forward a pioneer corps to remove these difficulties. Soon after my return to Young's Point, Admiral Porter sent back to me for a cooperating military force. Sherman was promptly sent with one division of his corps. The number of steamers suitable for the navigation of these bayous being limited, most of the force was sent up the Mississippi River to Eagle's Bend, a point where the river runs within one mile of Steele's Bayou, thus saving an important part of this difficult navigation. The expedition failed, probably more from want of knowledge as to what would be required to open this route than from any impracticability in the navigation of the streams and bayous through which it was proposed to pass. Want of this knowledge led the expedition on until difficulties were encountered, and then it would become necessary to send back to Young's Point for the means of removing them. This gave the enemy time to move forces to effectually checkmate further progress, and the expedition was withdrawn when within a few hundred yards of free and open navigation to the Yazoo. All this may have been providential in driving us ultimately to a line of operations which has proven eminently successful. For further particulars of the Steele's Bayou expedition, see report of Major-General W. F. Sherman, forwarded on the twelfth of April. As soon as I decided to open water communication from a point on the