CAMP BEFORE VICKSBURG, Feb. 12, 1863.
I have hitherto sent you original papers or copies to satisfy any one of the falsehood of the attacks against me in the late Vicksburg matter. I had a newspaper reporter arrested and tried by a court-martial, but by the rulings of the court I infer they are of opinion that to make the accused come within the order of the War Department the fact should be proven that the very substance of the objectionable matter went to the enemy. I have been unable to find the identical matter, but in every Southern paper I get I find abundance of evidence to show that Northern papers furnish the Southern leaders abundant and timely notice of every movement. I send you two to show this fact. In the Vicksburg “Whig” (?), at the bottom of the last column of the first page you will see that it states positively that a correspondent of one of the Northern journals wrote in advance of the federal plans in the late move on Vicksburg. Had they received three days notice of our coming to the Post of Arkansas, they could have so reinforced that it would have cost us a siege. But then we were beyond the power of the press and succeeded. And so it must ever be. These newspaper correspondents hanging about the skirts of our army reveal all plans, and are worth a hundred thousand men to the enemy. . . .
I have no faith in the canal here, save we may enlarge it to pass supplies for gunboats below, which will enable the latter to keep supplies from Vicksburg, via the river, but we in no wise threatened Vicksburg, for the bluffs extended many miles below the outlet of the canal. The river is bank full and threatens to overflow our camps — but I have more faith in the efforts above at Yazoo Pass and Lake Providence. The former may admit us to the Yazoo from above and the latter may open a channel down the Tensas to Red, or by Atchafalaya below Port Hudson. If Banks had orders to meet me at Vicksburg on Christmas he has been slow of execution, for I cannot hear that he has even felt of Port Hudson. At all events we have not heard from him save via New York. Grant is now up at Lake Providence, McClernand and my corps are here in sight of Vicksburg, but the great Mississippi flows between us.
Affectionately your brother,
W. T. SHERMAN.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 190-1