I have pushed out 18 miles from Grand Gulf. On General Grant’s orders, I have halted my divisions in place until supplies come up. Supplies need to move in a more orderly manner. Each unit wants to look after its own supplies and that is interfering with the movement of supplies forward. I have suggested to General Grant how to deal with this issue.
CAMP AT HANKINSON’S FERRY, May 9 -4 a. m.
Yours of May 8 is received. It came too late to halt one of my brigades at the forks of the road, but I will send orders for Tuttle to remain at Willow Springs, which will cover the same point, and I advise you to issue some general order, and send it to all points, prescribing just how many wagons there shall be to each regiment, how many to each brigade, &c on this march.
There are 500 wagons across the river, and each has an officer pressing to have it over, as if the absolute safety of the army depends on that wagon. Make some uniform and just rule, and send somebody back to regulate this matter. Your road will be crowded and jammed unless it is done.
McArthur is ready to cross over, and can escort trains out. Blair will be there today or tomorrow, and should remain at Hard Times until you have all the wagons and provisions you aim to secure. It is useless to push out men here till their supplies are regulated, unless you intend to live on the country.
Hillyer is doing his best, but each corps and DIVISION and brigade commander is there, urging forward his particular wagon, and the steamboat can only bring wagons in a particular ratio.
The rule I adopted was:
1. Two wagons per regiment of troops.
2. Wagons exclusively loaded with provisions and ammunition.
3. According to the discretion of the officer in charge.
I left Colonel George Stone at Hard Times, but Blair will be there tonight.
Please make a general order on this subject at once; publish it to all corps, DIVISIONS, and brigades, and let Hillyer enforce it.
Stop all troops till your army is partially supplied with wagons, and then act as quickly as possible, for this road will be jammed as sure as life if you attempt to supply 50,000 men by one single road.
I will halt Steele’s DIVISION here, Tuttle’s at Willow Springs, and Blair’s at Hard Times, each ordered to keep supplied with beef and corn, and as much bread, sugar, and coffee as possible. General Crocker moves to the front to-day.
Yours, in haste,
W. T. SHERMAN