Camp Before Vicksburg
General Grant is at Grand Gulf with Admiral Porter scouting the enemy. He has left me to handle affairs at this end. I am not happy with the decision to move the army South of Vicksburg, but will do all I can to the success of the army.
IN THE FIELD, April 24, 1863
Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Comdg. Fifteenth Army Corps:
In company with Admiral Porter, I made today a reconnaissance of Grand Gulf. My impressions are, that if an attack can be made within the next two days, the place will easily fall. But the difficulties of getting from here (Smith’s plantation) to the river are great.
I foresee great difficulties in our present position, but it will not do to let these retard any movements. In the first place, if a battle should take place, we are necessarily very destitute of all preparations for taking care of wounded men. All the little extras for this purpose were put on board the Tigress, the only boat that was lost. The line from here to Milliken’s Bend is a long one for the transportation of supplies and to defend, and an impossible one for the transportation of wounded men. The water in the bayous is falling very rapidly, out of all proportion to the fall in the river, so that it is exceedingly doubtful whether they can be made use of for the purpose of navigation. One inch fall in the river diminishes the supply of water to the bayous to a very great extent, while their capacity for carrying it away remains the same. Should the river fall sufficiently to draw off all the water on the points where you are encamped, our line will have to be by wagons across to below the Warrenton batteries.
Whilst there, I wish you would watch matters, and, should the water fall sufficiently, make the necessary roads for this purpose. You need not move any portion of your corps more than is necessary for the protection of the road to Richmond until ordered. It may possibly happen that the enemy may so weaken his forces about Vicksburg and Haynes’ Bluff as to make the latter vulnerable, particularly with a fall of water to give an extended landing.
I leave the management of affairs at your end of the line to you.
I shall send Surgeon Hewitt to the Bend tomorrow, to consult with the medical director about the best policy to pursue for caring for our sick and wounded.
U. S. GRANT