Louisiana, Opposite Grand Gulf Mississippi
My divisions are starting to cross over and I will go with the lead party to catch up with General Grant. Once across, I will not be able to write home until we reach communications North of Vicksburg. This will be my last opportunity to write home for a while.
TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Camp opposite Grand Gulf, Mississippi
I have sent back orders for my 2nd Division. This will bring Hugh & Charley forward. The distance here is 63 miles. Here we cross over to Grand Gulf by means of steamboats and Grant is waiting for me 18 miles out. I don’t know what his move will be. I did not favor this move, and now shall advise a rapid march up the East of Black, break the Rail road good, and then cross over to the Yazoo, reuniting our communications with the River above. There we could operate against Vicksburg unless Vicksburg should fall before.
We hear that Banks is approaching Alexandria from the South. Porter has gone there from here with 3 fine gunboats. I have no doubt they will reach Alexandria, and that the chances are they may reach Shreveport. Opposition of a serious character on the West side of the Mississippi is very slight down here. We only hear of small parties of cavalry out about the Tensas, but none of them come near our Route of march.
Steele’s Division is up and Tuttle’s close behind, but Blair’s will not be up for three days. It will take up two days to get across here and another to reach Hawkin’s Ferry, where Grant now is. I don’t know if he will wait for me or push on.
Weather is fine, and Roads very good. Along Lake St. Joseph where we now are, the Planters never dreamed of our Coming. They had planted vast fields of corn & vegetables, and we find old corn, and some beef cattle. It is folly to suppose the enemy to be suffering for food. They have plenty of Beef and corn. We will have trouble in getting supplies and must learn to live on corn & beef ourselves.
I am in good health and every thing thus far moves well, but I am not one who suppose we can take Vicksburg by stratagem,. I shall be agreeably surprised if we do.
We have found some magnificent plantations most horribly plundered. Dr. Allen T. Bowie’s Plantation is the finest I ever Saw. The house was a palace and furnished as fine as any in New York. Magnificent portraits one of Mrs. Reverdy Johnson. Bowie is first cousin to Dr. Bowie of San Francisco & Brother I think to Mrs. Reverdy Johnson. All Rosewood furniture, pier glasses, splendid bedsteads were all smashed, books of the most valuable kind, strewn on the floor & about the yard, and every possible indignity offered the palace. It is done of course by the cursed stragglers who wont fight, but hang behind and disgrace our Cause & Country. Dr. Bowie had fled, leaving everything on the approach of our troops. Of course devastation marked the whole path of the army, and I know all the principal officers detest the infamous practice as much as I do.
Of course, I expect & do take corn, bacon, horses, mules and everything to support an army, and don’t object much to the using fences for firewood, but this universal burning and wanton destruction of private property is not justifiable in war. I thought of saving Mrs. Johnson’s portrait, as I fear the house & contents will be burned by the stragglers from my corps, but we are moving in the wrong direction to save anything.
I have just received yours of April 25, and was glad to hear you were safe back at home. I would like to know when the children are expected home, when their vacation is. I am happy to hear the pony arrived. How does the little Pony do? Does Tom claim it all? Or is it joint stock?
I don’t know when I will next write but it will be from the east side of the River near Vicksburg. If we can reach the Yazoo, we will succeed sooner or later. Grant is calling for me very impatiently and I will probably push out to him with my advance Guard tomorrow.
Love to all. Yours,