Description

    Ulysses S. Grant War-Dated Autograph Letter Signed. Seven pages, 7.75" x 10", Vicksburg, April 4, 1863. During the Civil War, the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, located on the Mississippi River, was a chief supply point for the Confederate army which President Lincoln believed to be the key to the to the downfall of the Confederacy. On December 2, 1862, Grant, with his Army of the Tennessee, moved overland, with the aid of gunboats in the river, to take Vicksburg at the beginning of the Vicksburg Campaign. The city and the surrounding countryside proved to be too well fortified and defended and the assault failed. Grant established his headquarters for the Department of the Tennessee near the city.

    Writing to Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Grant gives the latest reports from, and movements of troops around, the department, in part: "By information from the South, by way of Corinth, I learn that the enemy in front of Rosecrans have been reinforced from Richmond, Charleston, Savanna [sic], Mobile and a few from Vicksburg. They have also collected a Cavalry force of 20,000 men. All the bridges Eastward from Savanna and North from Florence are being rapidly repaired. Chalmers is put in command of North Miss., and is collecting all the Partizan [sic] Rangers and loose and independent Companies of Cavalry that have been opperating [sic] in this Dept. He is now occupying the line of the Tallahatchie. This portends preparation to attack Rosecrans and to be able to follow up any success with rapidity; also, to make a simultaneous raid into West Tennessee, both from North Miss. and by crossing the Ten. river. To counteract this, Admiral Porter has concented [sic] to send the Marine Brigade up the Ten. river to co-operate with Gen. Dodge at Corinth. I have also ordered an additional regiment of Cavalry from Helena into West Ten. I inclose with this letter from Maj. Gen. Hurlbut giving a program which he wished to carry out, and so much of it as to drive the enemy from the Tallahatchie and cutting the roads when they have been repaired. I think can be successfully executed. I will instruct him not to scatter his forces so as to risk loosing [sic] them. I have place one Division of troops on Deer Creek with the communication back to the Miss. river just above Lake Washington. The object of this move is to keep the enemy from drawing supplies from that rich region (and use them ourselves) and to attract the attention of the enemy in that direction. The navigation is practicable for our Iron Clads and small steamers through to the Yazoo river by the route lately tried by Admiral Porter, with the exception of a few hundred yards in Deer Creek, near Rolling Fork. this was obstructed by the enemy and they are now guarding and fortifying there. this move will have a tendency to make them throw in an additional force there and move some of their guns. My force had as well be there as here until I want them. A reconnosance [sic] to Haines Bluff demonstrates the impracticability of attacking that place during the present stage of water...There are a System of Bayous running from Millikins Bend...that are navigable for barges and small steamers, passing around by Richmond to New Carthage. The dredges are now engaged cutting a canal from here into these bayous. I am having all the empty coal barges...prepared for carrying troops and Artillery...and also for six tugs, to tow them."

    All of the maneuvering in the department is solely for the sake of assaulting the all-important city of Vicksburg. Continuing his letter, he sketches out his latest plan to take the city, saying: "My expectation is for a portion of the Naval fleet to run the batteries of Vicksburg whilst the Army moves through by this new route. Once there I will move either to Warrenton or Grand Gulf...From either of these points there are good roads to Vicksburg, and from Grand Gulf there is a good road to Jackson...This is the only move I now see as practicable, and hope it will meet your approval. I will keep my army together and see to it that I am not cut off from my supplies or beat in any other way than a fair fight. The discipline and health of this Army is now good, and I am satisfied the greatest confidence of success prevails."

    Grant ultimately chose Grand Gulf as his point of attack. Admiral David Farragut led a force of ironclads upriver to secure the area, silencing the batteries of Fort Wade. The Union naval bombardment continued after dark until the transports had passed Grand Gulf, but they were unable to take the area fully. The troops traveled upriver and debarked. Within weeks Grant reached the city of Vicksburg, launching two unsuccessful assaults on the city. Grant then decided to lay siege to the city and on July 4, the city surrendered, leaving the Union in sole control of the Mississippi River and cutting the Confederacy in two. Coupled with the victory at Gettysburg the previous day, Vicksburg was seen as the turning point in the war. Lightly toned with weakened folds separating at the edges. Small fingerprint at the upper corner of the first page. Small adhesive stain on page three.

    W.C. Putnam Collection for the benefit of the Acquisition and Conservation Fund of the Putnam Museum.




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    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
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