Grant organizes the movement against Vicksburg

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
The recent three-part Ulysses S. Grant miniseries on the History Channel asserted that one day after reassuming command of the army after the "siege" of Corinth, Grant began organizing the movement against Vicksburg. The Papers of US Grant [PUSG] states that on "JUNE 10. USG was restored to command of the Army of the Tenn." Maybe the documentary meant one day after Halleck left for the East in mid-July, but even that seems incorrect.

I have seen nothing in PUSG or elsewhere that corroborates this. Does anybody know what it may be based upon? Maybe I have it wrong.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
The recent three-part Ulysses S. Grant miniseries on the History Channel asserted that one day after reassuming command of the army after the "siege" of Corinth, Grant began organizing the movement against Vicksburg. The Papers of US Grant [PUSG] states that on "JUNE 10. USG was restored to command of the Army of the Tenn." Maybe the documentary meant one day after Halleck left for the East in mid-July, but even that seems incorrect.

I have seen nothing in PUSG or elsewhere that corroborates this. Does anybody know what it may be based upon? Maybe I have it wrong.
My understanding is this:
- after Corinth fell, he went to Memphis
- he organizesupplies under a small detachment to go meet Curtis in Arkansas as Curtis was making his way to Helena
- when the navy and a detachment from Butler in New Orleans converged on Vicksburg, they asked Grant for help and he said he no one to spare
- whe Halleck was promoted Grant went back to Corinth and
- he wrote Washburn that he had hoped to be involved in the push on Vicksburg but now had other problems



this can all be found in the grant papers
 

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Well, I was somewhat wrong. Reviewing the documentary, I see that the wording was to the effect that, one day after Halleck gave Grant authority to command as he saw fit, Grant began organizing the movement against Vicksburg.

On July 31, Halleck telegraphed to USG. "You must judge for yourself the best use to be made of your troops. Be careful not to scatter them too much; also to hold them in readiness to reinforce Buell at Chatanooga, if necessary." [PUSG 5:255] That extends the effective date two weeks, but I still see no organizing of any movement against Vicksburg until much later.

On June 28th, Grant wrote Halleck that, "News has just been received from Commodore Farragut. Gun Boats have left here to co-operate in the attack on Vicksburgh. A land force of 13,000 is said to be up from New Orleans. One if not two Gun boats will be here in the morning from mouth of White river. I have sent a force from here and thus again opened again telegraph communication. Will endeavor to keep it so." Grant indicated no interest in assisting, at a time when Vicksburg was at its most vulnerable.

On June 30, 1862, Flag Officer Charles H. Davis wrote to USG. "I have received a communication from Commodore Farragut, saying that it will be absolutely necessary to have additional troops to occupy Vicksburgh, after the batteries are silenced. May I request you to communicate this to General Halleck." Grant replied: "Troops I know cannot be sent from here immediately, certainly not until they can be brought from points further east. If the cheering news just arrived however should prove true I do not doubt but that sufficient forces could be spared from La Grange and Corinth to possess and hold Vicksburg."

On July 9, 1862, Brig. Gen. Thomas Williams, "below Vicksburg," wrote to USG. "... We need a greater land force here. The place cannot be taken by a naval force. ... If I had 10,000 additional to my present 2500, I think the place could be taken. Can't you come yourself?"

As Ned noted, Grant wrote Washburne, "You will see by this letter that I am back again to this place [Corinth]. I was in hopes of another field, probably the taking of Vicksburg, but the call of Gen. Halleck to Washington made my recall necessary."

Maybe the documentary was referring to this, as copied from PUSG: "Late in October, Grant assumed command of the Department of the Tennessee, gaining belated recognition that he was something more than Halleck's caretaker, and also receiving assurances of reinforcements. Although Grant had requested reinforcements on the basis of a threat by the Confederates to the vital railroad center of Corinth, he planned to use his increased force for a major offensive southward on the line of the Mississippi Central Railroad from Grand Junction, Tennessee, halfway through Mississippi to compel the evacuation of Vicksburg."

Until that point, I see very little about Grant organizing a drive on Vicksburg, which was the most obvious objective in his theatre.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Well, I was somewhat wrong. Reviewing the documentary, I see that the wording was to the effect that, one day after Halleck gave Grant authority to command as he saw fit, Grant began organizing the movement against Vicksburg. ...
.
Seems like a reference to Halleck's message of Nov 11, 1862 - " You have command of all troops sent to your department, and have permission to fight enemy where you please."
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Whatever the timeline for Grant planning & ordering an approach to Vicksburg, it is arguable that the lack of coordination between forces above & below Vicksburg must have got his attention. The situation was a glaring example of the disjointed lack of a central command & control that he sought to correct when he was promoted. As Lincoln put it, "If you can't skin, you can hold a leg."
 

Moe Daoust

Private
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
The recent three-part Ulysses S. Grant miniseries on the History Channel asserted that one day after reassuming command of the army after the "siege" of Corinth, Grant began organizing the movement against Vicksburg. The Papers of US Grant [PUSG] states that on "JUNE 10. USG was restored to command of the Army of the Tenn." Maybe the documentary meant one day after Halleck left for the East in mid-July, but even that seems incorrect.

I have seen nothing in PUSG or elsewhere that corroborates this. Does anybody know what it may be based upon? Maybe I have it wrong.
Have you checked Sherman's memoirs?
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The recent three-part Ulysses S. Grant miniseries on the History Channel asserted that one day after reassuming command of the army after the "siege" of Corinth, Grant began organizing the movement against Vicksburg. The Papers of US Grant [PUSG] states that on "JUNE 10. USG was restored to command of the Army of the Tenn." Maybe the documentary meant one day after Halleck left for the East in mid-July, but even that seems incorrect.

I have seen nothing in PUSG or elsewhere that corroborates this. Does anybody know what it may be based upon? Maybe I have it wrong.
I noticed that when I watched the first time. It was clearly an omission, because June 1862 to March 1863 was a complicated period. To me it seems that campaigning in Mississippi before the weather cooled was thought to be unwise. Then Bragg grabbed the initiative and Grant was in a supporting position.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
A little more commentary from Ethan Rafuse would have been helpful. Grant never go to far in front of Lincoln on emancipation, but never got to far behind either. William Seward and Elihu Washburne thought they convert Grant to a Republican, and were feeding him excellent advice on staying current with orders and policy, in my opinion.
 

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Have you checked Sherman's memoirs?

I just did check Sherman's memoirs. Although he was at Memphis early on, Sherman showed no great interest in taking Vicksburg until after November 16, when Grant wanted to confer with him.

On October 26, Grant told Halleck, "I would suggest however the destruction of the rail-roads to all points of the compas from Corinth by the removal of the rails to this place or Columbus and the opening of the road from Humboldt to Memphis. The Corinth forces I would move to Grand Junction and add to them the Bolivar forces except a smal garrison there. With small reinforcements at Memphis I think I would be able to move down the Mississippi Central road and cause the evacuation of Vicksburg and be able to capture or destroy all the boats in the Yazoo river." If that is to what the documentary referred, then it took Grant a long time to include Sherman in his organization.

It seems that there was little or no "organizing" of any movement on Vicksburg by Grant until he started his overland campaign. And that may or may not have been triggered by McClernand's preparations for an expedition on Vicksburg down the Mississippi.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
I just did check Sherman's memoirs. Although he was at Memphis early on, Sherman showed no great interest in taking Vicksburg until after November 16, when Grant wanted to confer with him.

On October 26, Grant told Halleck, "I would suggest however the destruction of the rail-roads to all points of the compas from Corinth by the removal of the rails to this place or Columbus and the opening of the road from Humboldt to Memphis. The Corinth forces I would move to Grand Junction and add to them the Bolivar forces except a smal garrison there. With small reinforcements at Memphis I think I would be able to move down the Mississippi Central road and cause the evacuation of Vicksburg and be able to capture or destroy all the boats in the Yazoo river." If that is to what the documentary referred, then it took Grant a long time to include Sherman in his organization.

It seems that there was little or no "organizing" of any movement on Vicksburg by Grant until he started his overland campaign. And that may or may not have been triggered by McClernand's preparations for an expedition on Vicksburg down the Mississippi.
The naval build up was critical. The Confederates won the naval battle of Port Hudson, but Farragut still got the Hartford and one support vessel above the forts at Port Hudson. During the war Grant emphasized how helpful that was. Grant and Farragut did not see eye to eye on politics, so that was minimized after 1868.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
I just did check Sherman's memoirs. Although he was at Memphis early on, Sherman showed no great interest in taking Vicksburg until after November 16, when Grant wanted to confer with him.

On October 26, Grant told Halleck, "I would suggest however the destruction of the rail-roads to all points of the compas from Corinth by the removal of the rails to this place or Columbus and the opening of the road from Humboldt to Memphis. The Corinth forces I would move to Grand Junction and add to them the Bolivar forces except a smal garrison there. With small reinforcements at Memphis I think I would be able to move down the Mississippi Central road and cause the evacuation of Vicksburg and be able to capture or destroy all the boats in the Yazoo river." If that is to what the documentary referred, then it took Grant a long time to include Sherman in his organization.

It seems that there was little or no "organizing" of any movement on Vicksburg by Grant until he started his overland campaign. And that may or may not have been triggered by McClernand's preparations for an expedition on Vicksburg down the Mississippi.

He did try several times to get at Vicksburg, which all failed. The navy saved Grant up to that point
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
...
It seems that there was little or no "organizing" of any movement on Vicksburg by Grant until he started his overland campaign. And that may or may not have been triggered by McClernand's preparations for an expedition on Vicksburg down the Mississippi.
How much "preparations" did McClernand really do?
 

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Explain.

as far as I know, all he did was help governors forward troops to the front. None of the transports, supplies, ordinance, other logistics, intel, etc was prepared by McC

Shortly after the fall of Fort Donelson, McClernand commented on how, "I have from the breaking out of the rebellion attentively and carefully studied the immediate valley of the Mississippi as a principal field of military operations."

In September, when Grant was showing little interest in taking Vicksburg, McClernand was expressing how, “I would carry the war into their heart, not only for the purpose of crushing the rebellion itself, but as the quickest and surest way to reopen the Mississippi River. Indeed the reopening of the river is one of the first steps I would take in subduing the rebellion.” He detailed his strategy to Lincoln "Both in a military and commercial aspect this step is eminently important. It is important in a military view, first, because it would afford the means of cheap and easy communication between our troops disposed at different points on the Mississippi River and its navigable tributaries, and because it would facilitate the concentration of them at any one or more of those points; secondly, because it would cheapen the cost of supplying our men and animals at or near New Orleans with provisions and forage. It would do that by subsisting the overflowing granaries of the Northwest for the remoter sources of such supplies in the East, and thirdly, because, in securing to us the command of the Mississippi River, it would enable us to stop the communication between the revolted States and their armies east and west of that river, thus isolating each section as to the other, destroying the unity of their plans and combination, and cutting off the rebel forces of the river from their wonted source of supplies in Texas." He went on with other strategic advice to Lincoln.

On October 15, 1862 McClernand recommended a well balanced force of 24,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, 400 sappers, 1000 sharpshooters, and both 1500 light and 100 heavy artillery, but also delineates the various numbers and types of artillery to take, totaling 30,000 men and 60 cannon of various types and 12 siege train guns (30 #ers and mortars). In early December, McClernand looked to mount one-fifth of the infantry.

On November 15th​, McClernand had already concluded that an effective operational plan against Vicksburg would be crossing the river below the city: “The way cleared from New Orleans to Vicksburg, it would be expedient that transports, under convoy of gunboats, should be sent up the Mississippi to a point as near Vicksburg as might be found safe to meet the contingency of a determination to cross our troops over the river below it, after having disembarked them above and marched them around.” It took Grant up until the following April to reach that same conclusion (even though he claimed an earlier date in his Memoirs).
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Numbered to match paragraphs

1. That the "immediate valley of the Mississippi" would be "a principal field of military operations" was obvious to lots of people. Just because he too realized it doesnt tell us what his role in actually preparing anything

2. In September Grant was occupied with other things, like his job, though as we have discussed he had already shown interest in taking Vicksburg (see letter to Washburne in July). McClernand on the other hand found time to take a leave from his job in order to lobby the President for a better command.

3. Again McClernand making requests to be given a command...oooh

4. McClernands first proposal to Lincoln was to attack above the city, but he changed his mind by November. But this new plan depended on “The way cleared from New Orleans to Vicksburg", which wasn't the case. Its false to say "It took Grant up until the following April to reach that same conclusion". Grant's communications show he reached the same conclusion as soon as he took command in January and he also struggled with the same limitation of lack of boats below Vicksburg, as well as good marching route, which is why he worked on a canal and a route through lake Providence and finding a dry road.



Shortly after the fall of Fort Donelson, McClernand commented on how, "I have from the breaking out of the rebellion attentively and carefully studied the immediate valley of the Mississippi as a principal field of military operations."

In September, when Grant was showing little interest in taking Vicksburg, McClernand was expressing how, “I would carry the war into their heart, not only for the purpose of crushing the rebellion itself, but as the quickest and surest way to reopen the Mississippi River. Indeed the reopening of the river is one of the first steps I would take in subduing the rebellion.” He detailed his strategy to Lincoln "Both in a military and commercial aspect this step is eminently important. It is important in a military view, first, because it would afford the means of cheap and easy communication between our troops disposed at different points on the Mississippi River and its navigable tributaries, and because it would facilitate the concentration of them at any one or more of those points; secondly, because it would cheapen the cost of supplying our men and animals at or near New Orleans with provisions and forage. It would do that by subsisting the overflowing granaries of the Northwest for the remoter sources of such supplies in the East, and thirdly, because, in securing to us the command of the Mississippi River, it would enable us to stop the communication between the revolted States and their armies east and west of that river, thus isolating each section as to the other, destroying the unity of their plans and combination, and cutting off the rebel forces of the river from their wonted source of supplies in Texas." He went on with other strategic advice to Lincoln.

On October 15, 1862 McClernand recommended a well balanced force of 24,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, 400 sappers, 1000 sharpshooters, and both 1500 light and 100 heavy artillery, but also delineates the various numbers and types of artillery to take, totaling 30,000 men and 60 cannon of various types and 12 siege train guns (30 #ers and mortars). In early December, McClernand looked to mount one-fifth of the infantry.

On November 15th​, McClernand had already concluded that an effective operational plan against Vicksburg would be crossing the river below the city: “The way cleared from New Orleans to Vicksburg, it would be expedient that transports, under convoy of gunboats, should be sent up the Mississippi to a point as near Vicksburg as might be found safe to meet the contingency of a determination to cross our troops over the river below it, after having disembarked them above and marched them around.” It took Grant up until the following April to reach that same conclusion (even though he claimed an earlier date in his Memoirs).
 

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