Monday, May 4, 1863

Near CARTHAGE, Louisiana, South of Vicksburg
I have headed South from Milliken’s Bend to catch up with the lead divisions marching to join Grant’s army across the River in Mississippi. I have left General Blair north of Vicksburg to manage affairs there.

General F. P. BLAIR, Comanding Milliken’s Bend:

DEAR GENERAL: You will have heard that General Grant’s forces crossed below Bayou Pierre; marched on Port Gibson, where there was an engagement, which resulted in the flight of the enemy, the capture of four field guns and 500 prisoners.

In consequence of this, the enemy evacuated Grand Gulf, where General Grant was yesterday. I have an order from Grant to hurry up, cross at Grand Gulf, and hurry forward, bringing along certain provisions and wagons that will strip the road. He is evidently moving by the road on the east side of Big Black. As near as I can make, the road is 13 miles to Richmond, 17 miles to Smith’s, 7 miles down Vidal to bridge, and 6 to Perkin’s; total, 43 miles. Then it is 20 miles down river to Hard Times and 3 across in boats to Grand Gulf. Now, you know we have not wagons and boats to handle all the material needed by this army, but the whole success of this plan depends on its hardihood.

I will push ahead, and arrange to cross to Grand Gulf and follow Grant, wherever he may be. But some other way must be found to feed this army. I wish you would cause our old road over to Bigg’s to be examined; and if it can be used on foot, we might fell trees fore and aft, and make on the logs a plank road. Then, by running the Warrenton batteries, we could run steamboats up to the crevasse.

Please make all the preliminary examinations, and even commence the work, if you judge we may need it. I know we will. I did not hear the guns last night, and infer the tugs did not run the batteries. At all events, at this moment I cannot learn anything of the affairs at the river bank, as I am at Smith’s, and we can only reach the river at Carthage by boats.

One DIVISION of McPherson’s corps is here (McArthur’s), but I shall pass it. Keep everywhere hauling stores forward, so as to reach the Mississippi at Carthage or Perkins’.

Yours, in haste,
W.T. SHERMAN

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