Monday Afternoon, May 4, 1863


I have traveled the distance from Milliken’s Bend to across from Grand Gulf. The road is too long and too poor to move supplies. I have sent a message to Blair to take steps to build a new, shorter road.

I have reached the river and learned the fate of the latest attempt to run the batteries. It was not successful. I will communicate this to General Blair who is sending supplies from North of Vicksburg.

Major-General BLAIR, Commanding. Milliken’s Bend:

DEAR GENERAL: I left, Steele’s DIVISION last night at Dawson’s plantation; staid at Smith’s and rode to this point, arriving at 10:30 a.m. Distance from Smith’s, 14 miles; total distance from the Bend, 43 miles. Road tolerably good, but lumpy, from old plow furrows and ruts. All the road would become awful in a rain.

At the moment of my arrival, two barges floated by on fire; burned low. I had barely time to order a boat out, with orders, if possible, to bring a line ashore and bring them to, but the barges were so burned that the ropes could not be made fast, so the barges floated by and are lost. This is all we know of the running the blockade last night. The steamboat Empire City passed up from Grand Gulf this morning, is now at Carthage, and may have stopped the tugs and remaining barges there, but I am uneasy lest these tugs and barges have come to some bad end.

McClernand’s four DIVISIONS are across the river, and two of McPherson’s are also across. You will have heard of the fight at Port Gibson and evacuation of Grand Gulf. Grant’s headquarters are now there, and I will go down in the Empire City this evening, and come back by daylight. I am ordered to take Steele’s and Tuttle’s DIVISIONS down by land 20 miles, and cross over at Grand Gulf. I hope to get across by the day after tomorrow. I found one of McArthur’s brigade at Holmes’ plantation, and another at Smith’s. I think it is Grant’s purpose to leave one DIVISION of McPherson’s at this end of the road, and yours at that end.

I am satisfied that the danger of moving past the batteries is too great, and this road too long, and therefore I want you to put as large a force as possible in making a road cross to Biggs’, and to reconnoiter the ground around the crevasse to a good landing below Warrenton. If satisfied it is feasible, widen the old road, and cause worst part to be bridged, using any material at the Bend. As soon as I see Grant, I will give more specific orders. I feel satisfied now, from the low water in the bayous here, that the swamp at Biggs’ is dry, except a small place where the canal water passes. I would prefer that the batteries at Warrenton should be attacked, but this road must be shortened, else this army will be without food in two days. I am ordered to cross over 175 wagons with me, and send an order to Smith with this to hurry back to me the wagons of my own corps.

I am, with great respect, your friend and servant,

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