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The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant

 

Hon. Elihu B. Washburne June 1, 1862

Washington D.C.       Camp near Corinth

 

Dear Sir:

The siege of Corinth has at last terminated. General Pope is now in full pursuit of the retreating foe. There will be much unjust criticism of this affair but future effects will prove it a great victory. Not being in command, however, I will not give a history of the battle in advance of official reports. I leave here in a day or two for Covington, Kentucky on a short leave of absence. I may write you again from there if I do not visit Washington in person.

Yours Truly,

U.S. Grant

 

Note: The politicians, Lincoln included, complained about McClellan's "slowness" in pushing his army ninety miles  up the Yorktown Peninsula, and some of them complained about Halleck's "slowness" in pushing his army of greater size twenty miles; and they would complain about Buell's "slowness" in pushing his army almost two hundred miles toward Chattanooga. The fact that all three generals took a great deal of time to move these distances simply demonstrates objectively that moving armies in the Civil War was a difficult thing to do.

 

June 3, 1862

Camp near Corinth

Dear Julia:

So confident was I that I should be starting for home tomorrow I sent ahead Col. Lagrow last night; but necessity has changed my plans. In a few weeks I hope to be so stationed that you may join me. Where is hard to say. May be Memphis.

 

Ulys.

 

June 9, 1862

Corinth

Dear Julia:

I expected by this time to at home, but fate is against it. I do not yet know where I will be, but probably West Tennessee.

 

Although General Sherman has been made a major-general by the battle of Shiloh I have never done half justice by him. With green troops he was my stand-by during that trying day of Sunday, (there has been nothing like it on this continent). He kept his division in place all day, and aided materially in keeping those to his right and left in place. Ulys

 

Note: There was no force to Sherman's right during the first day's battle at Shiloh, and Benjamin Prentiss, whose division, supported by Hurlbut's and Wallace's, held the Hornet's Nest long after Sherman retreated, would be surprised to hear that Sherman had anything to do with helping him hold the Hornet's Nest.

 

June 12, 1862

Corinth

Dear Julia:

Monday the 16th probably, I will leave here (for Memphis).In my mind there is no question but that this war could be ended at once of the whole Southern people could express their unbiased feeling untrammeled by leaders. The feeling is kept up however by crying out Abolitionist against us and this is sustained by the acts of a very few among us.

Ulys

 

Note: By this time Halleck had dispensed with army corps, returning Buell, Pope, and Grant to command of their respective armies. Anticipating being made responsible for the back area, Grant meant to move his HQ to Memphis, to distance himself from Halleck, who was still issuing movement orders directly to division commanders.

June 16, 1862

Corinth

Dear Julia:

My next letter will probably inform you of the day I shall leave for Memphis. I went north to Jackson, Tennessee, on Friday. Some of my troops are occupying that place, and guard all the railroad from here to there, and from there to Grand Junction, and also the road from Humbolt to Memphis. My command at present is West Tennessee.

 

Ulys

 

June 19, 1862

Corinth

Hon. E. B. Washburn

Washington D.C.

Dear Sir:

I had planned on going to Covington, but General Halleck requested that I remain here. This settled my leave at present and for the war, so long as my services are required I do not wish to leave.

 

West Tennessee is fast being reduced to working order. With the knowledge that we can hold it the people will become law-abiding, if not loyal. The masses this day are more disloyal in the South, from fear of what might befall them, in case of defeat to the Union cause  than from any dislike of the Government.

Yours Truly

U.S. Grant

 

Note:What Grant meant to say here escapes comprehension entirely. The rebels are rebels from fear of what might happen to them if the Union wins, rather than from fear of the Union Government?  Setting aside the obvious fear of losing their homes to invaders, the citizens of the South were certain Lincoln's Government, in winning the war, meant to turn their world upside down.

 

June 23, 1862

Memphis

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck

I have just arrived.

 

           Very Respectfully,

U.S. Grant

 

June 24, 1862

Memphis

Maj.Gen. H.W. Halleck

Commanding Dept of Mississippi

Corinth

I arrived here yesterday after a long three day ride, coming through LaGrange with an escort of twelve men. Affairs in this city seem to be in a very bad order, rebels governing much in their own way. In a few days I expect to have everything in order.

 

On my arrival, General Lew Wallace applied for a leave of absence. I granted it.

           Very Respectfully,

U.S. Grant

 

Note: Wallace considered himself superceded in command by Grant's arrival. Wallace went home to Indiana where he engaged in recruiting activity on behalf of Governor Morton.

 

June 24, 1862

Memphis

Major-General John McClernand

Jackson, Tenn.

An order just published changes your command and takes out of it Wallace's division. Sherman and Hurlbut both remain at Grand Junction.

 

U.S. Grant

 

Note: From the beginning, in 1861, command of military operations in the West were dominated by Illinois men; thus, at Shiloh, of the five division commanders engaged in the battle on Sunday, three were Illinois politicians: John McClernand, Benjamin Prentiss, and Hurlbut. These men, McClernand and Prentiss especially, were highly competitive with Grant, struggling to gain dominance. McClernand very soon was able to escape from Grant's control, taking a leave of absence and going to Washington to lobby Lincoln directly for independent command of an expeditionary force, to be made up of Illinois recruits, to attack Vicksburg. Prentiss, who probably had a great deal to do with saving Grant's army on Sunday, April 6th, was pushed aside by Grant's sending him to Arkansas.

 

June 26, 1862

Memphis

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck

There is a reported cut in railroad west of Gernmantown. Wires down for two days, with small bodies of rebel cavalry through the country, burning cotton and cutting wire as fast as repaired.

U.S. Grant

 

Note: Sherman had telegraphed Grant on June 25: "Three miles west of Germantown, our locomotive was thrown off the track and turned completely over, disabling it. Three rails had been removed. The railroad regiment will go down to repair the track. It is necessary to patrol the road all the time. I have no doubt the enemy is gathering at Holly Springs. They must be attacked and driven off before we can use this road.

 

June 26, 1862

Memphis

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck

Rebel forces came in on the railroad near Germantown, and captured the train and all board, and also the wagon train loaded with supplies for Sherman's division. Now I hear they are destroying a wagon train at its camping place last night. I have reports there is a rebel force gathering to attack this place.

           Very Respectfully,

U.S. Grant

 

June 27, 1862

Memphis

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck

With the aid of one division from Corinth, I think it practicable to occupy Holly Springs, Hernando and an intermediate point to intercept Jeff Thompson's raiders. I would like to have the 11th Cavalry.

           Very Respectfully,

U.S. Grant

           Headquarters Dist. West Tenn.

Memphis June 27, 1862

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck

Commanding Dept Mississippi

With the weak force I have I fear it impossible to keep the railroad open between here and Grand Junction, and at the same time keep the city in subjection. There is great disloyalty manifested by the citizens of this place and no doubt spies are everywhere. All communication is prevented south of our lines as far as our guards can prevent it. I urge the importance of having here one division of the Army of Tennessee, ordered from Corinth.

           Very Respectfully,

U.S. Grant

 

Note: This letter shows that, despite the fact Grant had been returned to command of the Army of Tennessee, he did not have the authority to move its divisions around, without Halleck's permission.

 

June 28, 1862

Memphis

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck

Gunboats have left here to cooperate with Commodore Farragut in the attack on Vicksburg. A land force of 13,000 is said to be coming up from New Orleans.

           Very Respectfully,

U.S. Grant

 

Note: Four regiments, with two batteries, approached Vicksburg from the south, on the east bank of the river, while Farragut on the south, and Porter on the north attempted to suppress the fire of the Vicksburg artillery sweeping the river, but the endeavor failed and the attack was given up.

 

June 29, 1862

Memphis

Maj. Gen. John McClernand

The railroad isn't running through as all my orders for the change of troops so far have been countermanded. I shall decline giving further orders to troops not directly under my command here. I would prefer that you not telegraph Halleck directly for authority.

U.S. Grant

 

Note: At this time, Grant had direct command of four regiments, with most of the Army of Tennessee beyond his immedate control. Several days later, Halleck wrote Grant this: "Again, you complain that troops belonging to your general command received orders direct from me. While present with the army here, I shall, whenever occasion requires it, exercise the right of issuing orders direct to any detached command. You are more than a hundred miles away and orders require immediate execution, sending them through you is impossible. Moreover I had information of the enemy which you could not possibly have had. I must confess that I was very much surprised at the tone of your dispatch, and the ill feeling manifested in it, so contrary to your usual style, and especially toward one who has so often befriended you when you were attacked by others."

 

What Happened in June 1862

 

In The House of Representatives

The War In The West

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant June 1862

The War In The East

The Battle of Gaines Mill

The Papers of General McClellan June 1862


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Joe Ryan

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About the author:
Joe Ryan is a Los Angeles trial lawyer who has traveled the route of the Army of Northern Virginia, from Richmond to Gettysburg, several times.
 

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