City Point, Virginia,
January 24, 1865.
YOUR letter announcing the completion of the medal13 was duly received, and not answered because I expected to be in Washington about as early as a letter would get there. I did go, but not as early by a day or two as I expected, and then was in such haste that I saw no one out of the War and my own office. I can hardly say when I will be up again. Not for a week or two probably. I do not want the medal here, where there would be such danger of losing it. You can therefore keep it where you deem best until I am ready to take charge of it. . . .
We have had quite an exciting time here since 3 A. M. to-day. The heavy freshet we have been having the last few days has washed away some of our obstructions in the James. About that hour four of the enemy’s gunboats started down the river, and one or two of them actually passed the obstructions. Providence seemed to be on our side. Our navy certainly was not. Notwithstanding several days’ notice had been given, not a single preparation seemed to have been made to receive such a visit. Fortunately, however, two of the enemy's boats grounded near the Howlett House, and those that had passed down turned back. Two of the enemy’s boats were sunk and one disabled. The two aground were well pummeled for several hours, and must both of them have been injured, though the report I get is: Two sunk, one disabled. This was all done from land batteries. The naval force left here is not adequate to the work with the obstructions removed. I hope, however, to have all right. We have all been very busy since the 3d, and will have everything right before there is any let up.
13 Presented to General Grant by Congress for the capture of Vicksburg and opening the Mississippi River from Cairo to the Gulf of Mexico; also for his great victory at Chattanooga.
SOURCE: James Grant Wilson, Editor, General Grant’s Letters to a Friend 1861-1880, p. 43-4, 116