Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Major General Ulysses S. Grant to Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, March 10, 1863

Young’s Point, Mississippi,
March 10, 1863.

NOW that Congress has adjourned, I have thought possible you might want to make a visit to this part of the country. I need not assure you that I would be most glad to see you here, and have you stay during the contest which will take place in the next thirty days from this writing. You will have time to join me if mails are prompt. The canal through would have been a success by today but for the great rise of water. The river is now several feet above the whole country hereabout, and our canal was dependent for its success upon keeping the water out of it. The upper dam has broken and submerged things generally. To stop this off will take a number of days, but we will do it. In the meantime, so far as I now know and have official reports, the Yazoo Pass expedition is going to prove a perfect success. This is highly important if for no other purpose than to destroy the transportation and embyro gunboats the enemy had there. They have been working for one year on one boat of gigantic proportions up that stream.

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, a young man of great merit, who has been put on General Hunter’s staff, but who was on mine as a lieutenant, and I objected to relieving until the present campaign is over, writes to Rawlins in a private letter that our success in getting into Yazoo Pass is due to the energy of C. C. Washburn. He felt an interest in the enterprise and took hold with a will, and with men worthy of the object to be accomplished. I have ordered the army corps of McPherson through that way with additional forces, making him effective men to the number of about twenty-eight thousand. McPherson is one of my best men, and is fully to be trusted. Sherman stands in the same category. In these two men I have a host. They are worth more than a full brigade each. McPherson will effect a lodgment on the high lands on the Yazoo River east bank, and will co-operate with the troops from here. The class of transports adapted to the pass being so limited, some delay will necessarily take place in getting them to their destination. I have sent up the river for all the small class of boats that can be got.

We are going through a campaign here such as has not been heard of on this continent before. The soldiers see the position of the enemy in front of them, but I presume do not see how they are to attack. Their camp ground is several feet below water, held in its place by the levees. Constant rains falling keep the roads almost impassable. With all this the men are in good spirits, and feel confident of ultimate success.

The health of this command is a subject that has been very much exaggerated by the press. I will venture the assertion that there is no army now in the field showing so large a proportion of those present with their commands being ready for duty. Really our troops are more healthy than could possibly have been expected, with all their trials. Although I have told you but little of plans here, it is more than I am in the habit of writing on this subject. You will excuse me, therefore, from saying how I expect to co-operate with McPherson, at least until you come down. General Washburn will have command of a very important cavalry expedition from the Yazoo River if all other plans succeed. . .

SOURCE: James Grant Wilson, Editor, General Grant’s Letters to a Friend 1861-1880, p. 23-6

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