Camp on the Big Black River, East of Vicksburg, Mississippi
I have set up my Headquarters at Bear Creek about 20 miles East of Vicksburg. From here, I can hear the guns at Vicksburg firing upon the besieged town. From this position I can ride my lines in a day and return.
I have extensively scouted the area and made orders for placements of batteries and entrenchments. Joe Johnston may cross the Big Black but he will have a difficult time reaching Vicksburg. To break through, Johnston must concentrate his troops at one position and attempt a breakthrough. General Grant has made 7 of his 13 divisions available for a repulse.
Our position is strong and the enemy have not yet attacked us. They have established batteries upstream to fire upon boats and attempt to disrupt our supplies. General Grant is ordering an expedition to Greenville, Mississippi to clean out an enemy battery there. They will take all crops or destroy them to make the location unusable by the enemy. Once our position here is fortified, we will raid across the river to strip it of supplies.
I sent the following messsage to Grant:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Bear Creek, June 24, 1863.
Not the sign of an enemy from Post Oak Ridge Post-office to Bird-song Ferry. Every point has been examined to-day, and nothing seen. No sign of an intention to cross anywhere near Bear Creek. I hear Port Hudson is taken; please telegraph me the whole truth. The bearer of this note will wait an answer at the Bluff. I am now with General Parke, at Post Oak Post-office, but will return to my extreme right, near Young’s.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General