I wrote the following to my wife, Ellen:
TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
HEADQUARTERS, 15 Army Corps
Walnut Hills, May 25, 1863
Whilst the men are making Roads and ditches to enable us to get close up to the enemy’s parapet without crossing within full view and fatal effect of their well prepared forts and trenches, I have availed myself of the favorable opportunity to pitch a tent and get out writing materials to write up. I have made a preliminary Report in advance of the Sub Reports that should first be made that an outline of our movements may be made to Washington. As it is copied in the Book, I send you my personal draft and also a map that will enable you and your father to trace our Course.
Devastation & Ruin lay behind us and a Garrison of some 15 or 20,000 men are cooped up in Vicksburg with about 5 or 6000 people, women & children. The Forts are well built to command the Roads, and the hills and valleys are so abrupt and covered with fallen trees, standing trunks and Canebrake that we are in a measure confined to the Roads. We have made two distinct assaults all along the Line, but the heads of Columns are swept away as Chaff thrown from the hand on a windy day. We are now hard at work with roads and trenches, taking all possible advantage of the Shape of ground. We must work smartly as Joe Johnston is collecting the shattered forces, those we beat at Jackson and Champion Hill, and may get reinforcements from Bragg & Charleston and come pouncing down on our Rear. The enemy in Vicksburg must expect aid from that quarter, else they would not fight with such desperation. Vicksburg is not only of importance to them, but now is a Subject of Pride and its loss will be fatal to their power out West.
Grant’s movement was the most hazardous, but thus far, the most successful of the war. He is entitled to all the Credit, for I would not have advised it. We have now perfect Communication with our supplies, plenty of provisions, tools, and ammunition and if vast reinforcements do not come from the outside Vicksburg is ours as sure as fate.
I suppose you have all been in intense anxiety. Charley was very conspicuous in the 1st assault, and brought off the Colors of the Battalion which are now in front of my tent the Staff cut away by a ball that took with it a part of his finger. Luke is all safe. Washington was killed & taken inside of Vicksburg. We brought off nearly all our dead & all the wounded, and the enemy called from their pits warning the burial parties not to come closer as they would take care of those left. Our pickets are up so close that they can hardly show their heads without drawing hundreds of shots. In like manner, we can hardly show a hand without the whirr of a minnie Ball. Our artillery is all well placed and must do havoc in the Town. We have over a hundred Cannon which pour a constant fire over their parapets, the Balls going right towards their court house & depot.
In about 3 days our approaches will be so close that another assault will be made, but the enemy like beavers are digging as hard as we. Hugh’s Brigade lies forward against the face of a hill within 150 yards of one of the Main forts that I want to approach, mine & blow up, before trying another Charge. I have a nice camp and Grant is near me. McPherson is a noble fellow, but McClernand a dirty dog.
Our present position is high & healthy, and we are all in good health & spirits. Charley is in Command of his Battalion & is camped near me as a Head Quarters Guard. As soon as we take Vicksburg, I will name Charley in terms of as much praise as you can want
Love to all. Yours Ever,