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Chapter 10:

  • Grant recommends Sherman and McPherson for promotion
  • -- characteristics of American soldiers -- army of the Tennessee -- organization of negro troops -- trade with the conquered regions -- Grant urges movement against Mobile -- Halleck disapproves -- Grant's army broken up -- condition of troops -- feeling of citizens -- Thirteenth corps sent to Banks -- Grant visits New Orleans -- thrown from his horse -- Reenforcements ordered to Rosecrans -- a corps sent to Rosecrans -- Grant ordered to Cairo -- meets the Secretary of war -- Proceeds to Louisville -- placed in command of military division of the Mississippi.

Immediately after the second capture of Jackson, Grant recommended both Sherman and McPherson for the rank of brigadier-general in the regular army.1 ‘The first reason for this,’ he said, ‘is their great fitness for any command that it may ever become necessary to intrust to them. Second: their great purity of character, and disinterestedness in any thing except the faithful performance of their duty and the success of every one engaged in the great battle for the preservation of the Union. Third: they have honorably [403] won this distinction upon many well-fought battlefields. The promotion of such men as Sherman and McPherson always adds strength to our army.’ These promotions were promptly made. Grant also recommended other officers for advancement, both in the regular army and in the volunteers. The generalin-chief was favorable, and most of the recommendations were approved. The government, indeed, seemed anxious to fully reward all who had been conspicuous in the great campaigns which resulted in opening the Mississippi river.

This approbation was not confined to corps commanders, nor to officers who were graduates of the Military Academy. There were only seven general officers in the army of the Tennessee who had studied their profession at West Point;2 all the others had entered the volunteer service without the advantage of a military education, or the spur of a lifetime ambition; they went to war, as the soldiers of the whole army did, because the country was in danger. These men studied hard in the school of experience; Belmont, Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, and Iuka were their instructors; their lessons were learned under the eyes of Grant and Sherman and McPherson: and, at the fall of Vicksburg, the commanders of divisions and brigades, whether on the march or the battle-field, in siege operations or in garrison, were equal to the emergency. Their practical knowledge of a commander's duties was gained; their energy, promptness, subordination, and gallantry were qualities [404] without which, neither their own advancement, nor the continued and brilliant successes of the army to which they belonged, could ever have been attained.

The same spirit that animated them extended to regimental officers, and even to private soldiers. The rank and file, especially, were not fighting for fame. They knew that most of them could have no chance for promotion. . . . Although, here and there, those who distinguished themselves might rise, and did rise, yet, doubtless, gallant deeds were constantly done that never found a chronicler; doubtless, undeveloped talent lay hidden, during all these campaigns, under many a private's coat; doubtless, glory was often won, and the costly price not paid. This the soldiers knew had been, and felt must be again; yet they fought, and marched, and worked, and died, as willingly as those to whom the great prizes were the incentives. They did this, not only under the stimulating enthusiasm which drove them to the field in the first days of the war, but in the weary months of that long spring of 1863, under the piercing blasts and pelting storms of Donelson, and in the scorching heats and sickening atmosphere of Vicksburg. Without the excitement of danger, as well as in the very presence of quick-coming death, they persisted in doing all that was necessary to accomplish the end they set out to gain.

Nor was this simply what every soldier does in war. It is not national partiality which declares that the combination of traits that made this army what it was, and enabled it to do what it did, was essentially American. The mingling of sturdy independence with individual intelligence, of patriotic [405] feeling with practical talent was American. These men were not more gallant, nor more devoted than the misguided countrymen they fought; nor do I believe that their courage or endurance was greater than has often been displayed on European fields. But it is seldom in the history of war that a race has sprung to arms like that which won the battles of the Union. Not, indeed, a highly-cultivated people, but one in whom general education was more widely diffused than in any that ever fought., It was the appreciation each man had of the objects of the war, and his determination to accomplish them; his intelligent love for the Union, inspiring an adventurous manliness often acquired in the Western woods and on the Indian frontier, and combined with the American practicalness—itself often the result of a frontier life—that produced the American soldier.

That soldier had a devotion and a gallantry which equalled any displayed on the most famous fields in war; but to these were added a peculiar faculty of applying his intelligence to the every-day means and the ordinary events of a campaign or a siege, enabling him to persevere amid extraordinary difficulties as well as dangers, and, when one means failed to try another, and, when all means seemed lacking, to create means himself, and with these to achieve victory. This quality was conspicuous in the men who conquered Vicksburg. This made soldiers and officers, and division generals and corps commanders all act as one, all cooperate with their chief, hold up his hands, carry out his plans, act, indeed, as the body of which he was the head; he, the brain to conceive and the will to direct, while they were the means, the limbs and nerves and muscles, to execute. [406]

For Grant himself shared this same combination of traits. His military character was thoroughly the result of American life and American institutions. The same devotion to an idea, which was manifest, not in words nor in enthusiastic expression, but in the deeds of every day; the same intensity of purpose, that was betrayed more in achievement, even than in effort; the practical determination, the self-reliance, rather than self-assertion; the heating of the iron white-hot, rather than red—to blaze not, but to burn more; all these traits he shared with the soldiers whom he led to victory. He was a fitting chief for the Army of the Tennessee.

His child, almost his creation—bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, growing with his growth and strengthening with his strength, sharing his trials, and dangers, and difficulties, and victories; his spirit had infused it, in return its successes had inspired him, and urged him on to greater effort and more complete fulfilment. He was to leave that army soon, to assume more difficult positions, to direct grander operations, but he never forgot his old associates. For he still commanded them, though further off; he directed whither they should march, and where they should conquer, as long as they were an army. And amid all the varied chances and splendid successes that afterwards befell that army, he watched its career with a solicitude that was prompted by the early trials and triumphs they had shared together.

On the 1st of January, 1863, the President had issued his proclamation declaring the slaves in the rebellious states, with some few exceptions, ‘thenceforward, forever free.’ Emancipation, however, had practically begun with the war: wherever the national [407] armies appeared, the slaves were really freed. The measure of arming the blacks followed hard upon that of emancipation, and, in April, the adjutant-general of the army was sent to the Department of the Tennessee, for the purpose of organizing negro troops. The proposition, however, met with serious opposition from many warm adherents of the national cause at the North, and was violently discussed even in the armies.

At the outbreak of the rebellion, Grant was not an abolitionist.3 His object was simply the salvation of the Union; the question of slavery he regarded as subordinate and incidental, not paramount. But slavery was, in his eyes, completely and really subordinate; its interests, like all other interests, were inconsiderable, in comparison with those of the Union; and when the government determined first to free, and then to arm the blacks, Grant was ready to cooperate. Like most of the successful soldiers of the war, he avoided all political action or even discussion; but, as soon as he received orders to arm and organize the slaves, he set about obeying. His purposes were military, and, from this time, he never hesitated to use this means to accomplish his purposes, as freely as any other that was put into his hands. At first, the negroes were employed principally in guarding places that had already fallen into his hands. He believed, at that time, that they would prove more effective for defence than in the open field. The influences, whether of race or of their recent condition, seemed to cling to them in some degree; and, apparently, they fought better behind [408] bulwarks. It has often happened that white men did the same.4

On the 11th of July, he said to the adjutantgen-eral of the army: ‘I am anxious to get as many of these negro regiments as possible, and to have them full, and completely equipped. . . . . I am particularly desirous of organizing a regiment of heavy artillerists from the negroes, to garrison this place, and shall do so as soon as possible.’ On the 24th of July: ‘The negro troops are easier to preserve discipline among than our white troops, and I doubt not will prove equally good for garrison duty. All that have been tried have fought bravely.’

The rebels at first refused to recognize black troops as soldiers, and threatened that, if captured, neither they nor their white officers should receive the treatment of prisoners of war; the former were to be regarded as runaway slaves, the latter as thieves and robbers, having stolen and appropriated slave property. Grant, however, was determined to protect all those whom he commanded; and, when it was reported to him that a white captain and some negro soldiers, captured at Milliken's bend, had been hung, he wrote to General Richard Taylor, then commanding the rebel forces in Louisiana: ‘I feel no [409] inclination to retaliate for the offences of irresponsible persons, but, if it is the policy of any general intrusted with the command of troops to show no quarter, or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy towards black troops and officers commanding them to that practised towards white troops. If so, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The government, and all officers under the government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.’5

The Secretary of the Treasury, Honorable Salmon P. Chase, was strongly in favor of allowing trade to be carried on in the conquered regions. On the 4th of July, he wrote to Grant: ‘I find that a rigorous line within districts occupied by our military forces, from beyond which no cotton or other produce can be brought, and within which no trade can be carried on, gives rise to serious and to some apparently well-founded complaints.’ The secretary, therefore, urged the propriety of ‘substituting bonds, to be given by all persons receiving permits, for the rigorous line now established; or, at least, of substituting them partially.’ Grant, however, had always been averse to the policy of trading with the rebellious states, and replied at once: ‘No matter what the restrictions thrown around trade, if any whatever is allowed, [410] it will be made the means of supplying the enemy with all they want. Restrictions, if lived up to, make trade unprofitable, and hence none but dishonest men go into it. I will venture that no honest man has made money in West Tennessee in the last year, whilst many fortunes have been made there during that time. The people in the Mississippi valley are now nearly subjugated. Keep trade out but for a few months, and I doubt not but that the work of subjugation will be so complete that trade can be opened freely with the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.’ He concluded: ‘No theory of my own will ever stand in the way of my executing in good faith any order I may receive from those in authority over me; but my position has given me an opportunity of seeing what could not be known by persons away from the scene of war, and I venture, therefore, great caution in opening trade with rebels.’

Throughout the war these views were urged upon the government, whenever there seemed occasion for Grant to express an opinion on the subject. He believed that trade supplied the enemy with the means of carrying on the war, offered opportunities for spies and scouts to obtain contraband information, demoralized the army itself, by inviting officers to pervert their positions and introducing among them unprincipled civilians, and protracted the operations which alone could produce the object at which the nation was aiming. He was firm in the conviction that only military success could end the war, and that, therefore, no political or commercial considerations should at any time be paramount to military ones. For these reasons, Grant was invariably and inflexibly opposed [411] to any extension of commercial facilities, any relaxation of the restrictions on trade.

On the 26th of July, he said: ‘I am very much opposed to any trade whatever, until the rebellion in this part of the country is entirely crushed out. Secretary Chase differs, however.’ On the 13th of August: ‘My opinion is, that all trade with any enemy with whom we are at war is calculated to weaken us indirectly. I am opposed to selling or buying from them whilst war exists, except those within our lines.’ And, on the 26th of August, he addressed the Secretary of War: ‘If trade is opened under any general rule, all sorts of dishonest men will engage in it, taking any oath or obligation necessary to secure the privilege. Smuggling will at once commence, as it did at Memphis, Helena, and every other place where trade has been allowed within the disloyal states, and the armed enemy will be enabled to procure from Northern markets every article they require.’ Notwithstanding these arguments, a limited trade was opened with the rebels, and the consequences predicted by Grant followed rapidly. During the whole war, he was hampered by the operations of civilians, some of them, intent only on their own gains, others using trade merely as a cloak, under which they could carry on communication with the enemy. In this matter the government never could be induced to carry out his views.6 [412]

On the 18th of July, Grant announced to Halleck the fall of Jackson and the completion of the Vicksburg campaign. In the same dispatch, he said: ‘It seems to me, now, that Mobile should be captured, the expedition starting from Lake Ponchartrain.’ But Halleck had other plans, and, on the 22d, he replied: ‘efore attempting Mobile, I think it will be best to clean up a little. Johnston should be disposed of, also Price and Marmaduke, so as to hold line of Arkansas river. This will enable us to withdraw troops from Missouri. Vicksburg and Port Hudson should be repaired, so as to be tenable by small garrisons; also, assist Banks in clearing out western Louisiana. When these things are accomplished, there will be a large available force to operate either on Mobile or Texas. Navy is not ready for cooperation; should Sumter fall, then iron-clads can be sent to assist at Mobile.’

This strategy was in accordance with Halleck's habit of scattering his forces and energies upon conparatively unimportant objects, leaving the great and decisive aims to be accomplished last. He seemed unable to appreciate the fact, that if the main objects of the war were gained, the lesser ones were sure to follow; or even the purely military maxim, that strategic points of the highest consequence should be first secured. Had Grant's suggestion been acted on, and a campaign against Mobile promptly authorized, before the rebels had time to recover from the stunning [413] effects of the blow dealt them at Vicksburg, the only port then closed to national vessels in the Gulf of Mexico would undoubtedly have fallen at once, and a base have been secured for important operations towards the north. It is not improbable that the capture of Mobile, at that time, would have shortened the war by a year. But this was not allowed.

On the 24th of July, Grant renewed his suggestion: ‘It seems to me that Mobile is the point deserving the most immediate attention.’ And, on the 1st of August, he telegraphed to Halleck: ‘Mobile can be taken from the Gulf Department, with only one or two gunboats to protect the debarkation. I can send the necessary force. With your leave I would like to visit New Orleans, particularly if the movement against Mobile is authorized.’ The leave was not granted, the movement was not authorized, and the golden opportunity was slipping by. Grant got restive under this restraint, and, on the 25th of September, he returned to the subject: ‘I am confident that Mobile could now be taken, with comparatively a small force. At least, a demonstration in that direction would either result in the abandonment of the city, or force the enemy to weaken Bragg's army to hold it.’ On the 30th, he once more urged: ‘I regret that I have not got a movable force with which to attack Mobile or the river above. As I am situated, however, I must be content with guarding territory already taken from the enemy. I do not say this complainingly, but simply regret that advantage cannot be taken of so fine an opportunity of dealing the enemy a heavy blow.’

Halleck replied to this, on the 11th of October: ‘I regret equally with yourself that you could not [414] have forces to move on Mobile, but there were certain reasons, which I cannot now explain, which prevented such an attempt.’ The President himself had written to Grant on the subject somewhat earlier: ‘I see by a dispatch of yours that you incline strongly towards an expedition against Mobile. This would appear tempting to me also, were it not that, in view of recent events in Mexico, I am greatly impressed with the importance of reestablishing the national authority in western Texas as soon as possible. I am not making an order, however; that I leave, for the present at least, to the general-in-chief.’

As Grant's views were not accepted, he conformed to those of his superiors, and, immediately after the fall of Jackson, sent Banks a division of troops numbering four thousand men; five thousand others were ordered to Schofield, to operate against Price, in Arkansas, and the Ninth corps was returned to Burnside, in East Kentucky. Troops were also sent to Natchez, and that place was permanently occupied; large quantities of ammunition and five thousand head of cattle, for the rebel armies, here fell into possession of the national commander; the latter was a serious loss to the enemy.

The troops which had been engaged in the various operations of the campaign and siege of Vicksburg were now greatly exhausted, and ‘entirely unfit for any duty requiring much marching,’ but ‘by selecting any duty of immediate pressing importance,’ said Grant, ‘it could be done.’ He had already sent troops and transports to Banks, with which that officer ‘could find no difficulty in keeping the river open from Port Hudson down. Above that,’ said Grant, ‘I will take care of the river.’ Various expeditions [415] were sent out to drive away and break up the guerrilla bands that infested the Mississippi banks, and others to destroy the rolling-stock of the railroads outside of the command. These expeditions were all successful, meeting with little organized opposition.

Grant at this time sent supplies of medicine and provisions to the rebel sick at Raymond, at their own request, and informed Sherman, when families had been deprived of all their subsistence by national troops, it was only fair the same articles should be issued in return. ‘It should be our policy now,’ he said, ‘to make as favorable an impression upon the people of this state as possible. Impress upon the men the importance of going through the state in an orderly manner, refraining from taking any thing not absolutely necessary for their subsistence while travelling. They should try to create as favorable an impression as possible upon the people, and advise them, if it will do any good, to make efforts to have law and order established within the Union.’ The country in the rear of Vicksburg was full of paroled prisoners, swearing that they would not take up arms again if they were exchanged. Pemberton was reported to have but four thousand men left together. ‘The army that was paroled,’ said one, ‘was virtually discharged from the rebel service.’ Thousands crossed the Mississippi and went west; many begged a passage to the north, and quite a number expressed a strong anxiety to enter the national service; but this, of course, was not allowed. Johnston's army also was greatly demoralized, and the men deserted by thousands. Even a political movement was started by citizens, west of Pearl river, to bring Mississippi [416] back into the Union. This state of affairs, however, was not destined to last long.

On the 7th of August, in obedience to orders from Washington, Grant sent Ord's entire command, the Thirteenth corps, to Banks, and was himself directed to cooperate with that commander, by sending a small force from Natchez into Louisiana. Banks was to ascend the Red river to Shreveport, and to move thence into Texas, or from Natchitoches against Nacogdoches. Grant was informed: ‘General Banks has been left at liberty to select his own objective point in Texas, and may determine to move by sea. If so, your movement will not have his support, and should be conducted with caution. You will confer on this matter freely with General Banks. The government is exceedingly anxious that our troops should occupy some points in Texas with the least possible delay.’7

On the 30th of August, accordingly, Grant started in person for New Orleans, notifying Halleck of his departure: ‘General Banks is not yet off, and I am desirous of seeing him before he starts, to learn his [417] plans and see how I may help him.’ Sherman was next in rank, and Grant proposed, of course, to leave him in command; but Sherman suggested that it might facilitate public business if the routine of headquarters remained unchanged. During Grant's absence, therefore, all orders were issued in his name and by his chief-of-staff, but with the advice and concurrence of Sherman. One of these orders happened to be of importance. Directions were received from Halleck for the immediate reenforcement of Steele, then commanding the movement in Arkansas, intended to cooperate with Banks's campaign. General Rawlins, Grant's chief-of-staff, thereupon consulted with both Sherman and McPherson, and John E. Smith's division of the Seventeenth corps was sent to the assistance of Steele. This was but one among many instances of the remarkable harmony which prevailed in the command. ‘With such men,’ said Grant, as Sherman and McPherson, ‘commanding corps or armies, there will never be any jealousies or lack of hearty cooperation . Between the two I would have no choice, and the army does not afford an officer superior to either, in my estimation.’

While at New Orleans, Grant was thrown from his horse, at a review, and severely injured. He was twenty days confined to one position, and could not return to Vicksburg until the 16th of September. On the 19th, he wrote: ‘I am still confined to my bed, being flat on my back. My injuries are severe, but still not dangerous. . . . . I will still endeavor to perform my duties, and hope soon to recover, that I may be able to take the field at any time I may be called upon to do so.’ He was, however, compelled to keep his bed until the 25th of September, and for [418] two months afterwards was unable to walk without the aid of crutches.

On the 13th of September, Halleck telegraphed: ‘All of Major-General Grant's available force should be sent to Memphis, thence to Corinth and Tuscumbia, to cooperate with General Rosecrans.’ Rosecrans, with an army of about sixty thousand men, was at this time operating in Tennessee and northern Georgia, where he had just obtained possession of Chattanooga, the most important strategic position between Richmond and the Mississippi river; while the rebels, under Bragg, were apparently attempting to move west of him through northern Alabama, and, by turning the right wing of the national army, to cut off all communication with Nashville, the base of his supplies. Halleck's dispatch, ordering reenforcements from Grant, was delayed ten days on the Mississippi, between Cairo and Memphis. Communication was by telegraph from Washington to Cairo, and thence dispatches were conveyed by steamer to Memphis and Vicksburg. The messenger to whom this package was intrusted failed to deliver it promptly.

On the 15th, Halleck telegraphed again: ‘All the troops that can possibly be spared in West Tennessee and on the Mississippi river should be sent, without delay, to assist General Rosecrans on the Tennessee river. . . . . Information just received indicates that a part of Lee's army have been sent to reenforce Bragg.’ This was sent to Hurlbut, in the absence of Grant; but, when it reached Vicksburg, on the 22d, Grant had returned. He still kept his bed, but instantly directed Sherman: ‘Order at once one division of your army corps to proceed to reenforce Rosecrans, moving from here by brigade as fast [419] as transportation can be had.’ Orders were also issued to detain all steamers then at Vicksburg, or that might arrive there, until a sufficient number should be collected for this purpose. The division from Mc-Pherson's corps, which had started for Steele, was recalled, and ordered to Rosecrans. It was already aboard transports and on its way to Helena, but a staff-officer was dispatched to turn these troops northward; they were directed to move at once to Memphis and report to Hurlbut. The last-named officer was instructed to forward not only this division of Mc-Pherson's corps, but two divisions from his own command, and whatever troops might return from the expedition to Arkansas, which had now ended. General Halleck was notified of these movements, and informed: ‘Should more troops be required from here for Rosecrans, there is sufficient time for orders to reach me before transportation can be had.’

Banks had just applied to Grant for another division of troops, but he was furnished with a copy of Halleck's dispatch, and informed: ‘This will necessarily prevent further reenforcements being sent from here to you, until word is heard from the generalin-chief: We must make no disposition of troops that will endanger the success of Rosecrane.’ All of these orders were made on the 22d, the day that Halleck's dispatch arrived. His orders were received on the morning of the 22d; Osterhaus's division of Sherman's corps was then at the Big Black bridge, fifteen miles off, but the whole command reached Vicksburg during the night of the same day; most of it was embarked within twenty-four hours, and all of it was sailing up the river, within forty-eight hours from the receipt of the order. On the 25th, Grant wrote: ‘I [420] am just out of bed, and find that I can write only with great difficulty. During the twenty days that I have been confined to one position on my back, I have apparently been in the most perfect health, but now that I am up on crutches I find myself very weak.’

On the same day, Halleck's dispatches of the 13th arrived, and Grant replied: ‘I will now send Sherman to West Tennessee, with two more divisions of his corps. This leaves one division of Sherman's corps here, but it is replaced by one of McPherson's, already above.’ Sherman was accordingly notified to hold his command in readiness to move to the support of Rosecrans. It was some days before the requisite transportation could be obtained, although every steamer on the river was again detained for the purpose; but, on the 27th, Sherman embarked in person for Memphis, followed by a fleet of boats, conveying Morgan L. Smith and Hugh Ewing's divisions. Tuttle's division of the Fifteenth corps was to remain with McPherson, in exchange for that of John E. Smith, which had already started for Memphis, from Helena, and of which, also, Sherman was to assume command.

As it was certain that the rebels would soon become aware of the movement of Sherman's column, and in all probability attempt at once to prevent or obstruct it, Grant now ordered McPherson to send an expedition to Canton and Jackson. This was designed to distract the enemy, and threaten other points still further east, so that, if possible, all the hostile force in Mississippi might be recalled to McPherson's front, and the march of Sherman from Memphis by way of Corinth, Tuscumbia, and Decatur [421] left undisturbed.8 Sherman was informed of these operations in his favor. He reached Memphis on the 2d of October, and, by the 4th, his entire command had arrived there.

Meanwhile, the blow which Halleck had foreseen, and striven to avert, had fallen heavily. On the 19th and 20th of September, Rosecrans suffered a severe repulse on the Chickamauga river, nine miles from Chattanooga, and was compelled to retire into the latter place, with a heavy loss of artillery and the sacrifice of immense strategic advantages. In Chattanooga, he was nearly surrounded by a superior rebel army, and his only line of communication almost entirely cut off. On the 29th, Halleck telegraphed to Grant: ‘The enemy seems to have concentrated on Rosecrans all his available force from every direction. To meet him, it is necessary that all the forces that can be spared in your department be sent to Rosecrans's assistance. . . . . An able commander like Sherman or McPherson should be selected. As soon as your health will permit, I think you should go to Nashville, and take the direction of this movement.’ On the 28th, Grant wrote: ‘I am now ready for the field, or any duty I may be called on to perform.’ On the 30th, he said:‘All I believe is now moving according to your wishes. I have ten thousand five hundred men to hold the river from here to Bayou Sara’ (near Port Hudson).

The same day he said: ‘I regret that there should be an apparent tardiness in complying with your orders; but I assure you that, as soon as your wishes were known, troops were forwarded as rapidly as transportation could be procured.’ To this Halleck [422] replied: ‘Although the reenforcements from your army for General Rosecrans did not move as soon or as rapidly as was expected, no blame whatever attaches to you. I know your promptness too well to think for a moment that this delay was any fault of yours.’ The delay was occasioned by the confusion occurring in the transmission of Halleck's orders, as already explained.

In consequence of this confusion, Grant now sent a staff-officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, to Cairo, to communicate direct with the government, and, on the 3d of October, the following dispatch was received: ‘Convey, as soon as possible, to General Grant the following: “It is the wish of the Secretary of War that, as soon as General Grant is able to take the field, he will come to Cairo, and report by telegraph.” ’ Grant replied from Columbus, Kentucky: ‘Your dispatch from Cairo of the 3d, directing me to report from Cairo, was received at eleven thirty, on the 10th. Left the same day with staff and headquarters, and am here, en route for Cairo.’ On the 16th, he telegraphed from Cairo: ‘I have just arrived, and report in pursuance with your instructions of the 3d instant. My staff and headquarters are with me.’ Halleck answered: ‘You will immediately proceed to the Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky, where you will meet an officer of the War Department with your orders and instructions. You will take with you your staff, etc., for immediate operations in the field.’ This was received on the 17th, and Grant started immediately for Louisville, by rail.

At Indianapolis, he was met by the Secretary of War, Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, who brought with him from Washington an order creating for [423] Grant a new command—the Military Division of the Mississippi; this was to include all the territory between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi river, excepting such as might be occupied by Banks: the three departments of the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Ohio were all to be subordinate to Grant. At this time, Rosecrans was in command of the Department of the Cumberland, and Burnside of that of the Ohio. The imperative necessity for cooperation between these various commands had been made painfully manifest to the government. Hitherto, each army had seemed to have a separate object, and apparently, in each department, a campaign was carried on without reference to the operations of the others. Within the last few months, indeed, Halleck had striven hard to compel Rosecrans to cooperate with Grant, but found himself utterly unable to accomplish the task; and it was now determined to cut the knot of Rosecrans's obstinacy and insubordination, by giving to Grant almost absolute control of the forces and operations west of the Alleghanies. The disaster which Rosecrans had suffered at Chickamauga hastened this decision, and the course suggested by Grant, nearly a year before, was at last forced upon the government — the concentration and combination of all the western armies under a single head, and for a single aim. Grant was to be allowed to make his own campaigns, to use the troops to accomplish his own purposes. It was a great responsibility to put upon him, but there was nothing better to do; no other general had accomplished as much as he; his past successes were the best guaranty for future ones; the danger at Chattanooga was imminent, and increasing daily; it was necessary to act at once; and tremblingly, [424] doubtless, but still almost hopefully, the great trust was committed to his hands.

The Secretary of War brought also two other orders which he showed to Grant. One of these left Rosecrans in his previous command, of the Army and Department of the Cumberland; the other relieved him, and substituted Major-General Geo. H. Thomas, the next in rank in that army. Grant was offered his choice of the orders, and did not hesitate a moment; his past experience with Rosecrans made him certain that he could get no complete cooperation from that officer, and he asked at once for his removal. The government, indeed, preferred this. The defeat of Rosecrans had been so disastrous, and its results were so alarming, that the confidence felt in his talent and military character was shaken, perhaps, even more than was deserved. Intense anxiety was entertained lest he should abandon Chattanooga, or even surrender his army, now in the closest straits; and Grant's action was fully approved. He was directed to proceed at once to his new command.

The Secretary of War accompanied him as far as Louisville; there both remained a day, discussing the situation of affairs, and Grant gathering the views of the government. During this day, the minister received a dispatch from Mr. C. A. Dana, his subordinate9 at Chattanooga, intimating that the danger of an abandonment of Chattanooga was instant; that Rosecrans was absolutely preparing for such a movement. The secretary at once directed Grant to immediately assume his new command, and to relieve Rosecrans before it was possible for the apprehended mischief to be consummated. Grant accordingly telegraphed to Rosecrans and Thomas, from Louisville, [425] assuming command of the military division. He sent also, at the same time, an order assigning Thomas to the Department of the Cumberland. On the 19th of October, he started, by rail, for Chattanooga.

1 During the entire war, the regular and volunteer armies of the United States remained distinct organizations, many officers holding commissions in both services. Promotion in the regular army was more prized by professional soldiers, because it was permanent, while the volunteer organization, it was known, would cease with the war.

2 Besides Grant, Sherman, and McPherson, these were Ord, who commanded the Thirteenth corps after the 26th of June, and Steele, Carr, and A. J. Smith, commanding divisions; all of whom distinguished themselves, and did good service to the country

3 Those in favor of the abolition of slavery had long been known to the United States as abolitionists.

4 On the 9th of August, the President wrote to Grant: ‘General Thomas has gone again to the Mississippi valley, with the view of raising colored troops. I have no doubt that you are doing what you reasonably can upon the same subject. I believe it is a resource which, if vigorously applied now, will soon close this contest. It works doubly; weakening the enemy, and strengthening us. We were not fully ripe for it until the river was opened. Now, I think, at least one hundred thousand can, and ought to be organized along its shores, relieving all the white troops to serve elsewhere. Mr. Davis understands you as believing that the emancipation proclamation has helped some in your military operations. I am very glad if this is so.’

5 General Taylor replied that he would punish all such acts, ‘disgraceful alike to humanity and the reputation of soldiers;’ but declared that officers of the ‘Confederate states' army’ were required to turn over to the civil authorities, to be dealt with according to the laws of the states wherein such were captured, all negroes captured in arms.


The moment purchasers of cotton are allowed in the market, that moment all the cotton in the Southern states becomes the property of that class of persons who are authorized to sell and receive pay. More than half of the cotton now in the South is the property of the so-called Southern Confederacy, for their benefit. This, of all others, will find its way to market, and will be sold by actual agents of the so-called Confederate government for their benefit. Thus, while we are making such efforts to close their ports, we will be opening a better market for them. Our money, being always worth a known price in New York city, will have a commercial value in Europe. This will enable the South to ship at much less risk the means of exchange for imported articles, than by sending the bulky article of cotton. Grant to Mr. Mellen, Treasury Agent, August

13, 1863.

7 This anxiety for an early occupation of Texas arose from the hostility towards the United States, evinced early in the war by the French and English governments, and the extraordinary steps taken by those governments in consequence. The accordance of belligerent rights to the rebels, almost before there was a rebellion, the proposition to mediate between a sovereign state and its insurgent citizens, and, above all, the invasion of Mexico with the avowed purpose of reestablishing the Latin race in power on the American continent-all these indicated a complete sympathy on the part of foreign powers with those who were seeking the overthrow of the Union, and threatened active interference in behalf of the rebellion. It was because of the imminence of this danger that the American government was so anxious to obtain a footing in Texas, which borders on Mexico, and presented the only probable avenue through which foreign armies would attempt to invade the Union.

8 For Sherman's route, see Map of the Theatre of War.

9 Afterwards Assistant Secretary of War.

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