I received the following correspondence from General Grant:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Near Vicksburg,
June 29, 1863
Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Commanding Fifteenth Army Corps:
GENERAL: Your general order, Number 135, is received. The dispositions you made are excellent. It will be impossible for Johnston to cross the Big Black River, north of the railroad, without being discovered and your troops ready for him. My only apprehensions are that Johnston, finding us so ready, may cover a movement south, and dash in at Baldwin’s and south of that before troops can be got out to meet him. A move of this kind certainly could not be made for anything more than a diversion to relieve the Vicksburg garrison. It does not look to me as if Johnston would ever think of bringing his wagon train across Big Black River south of us. I had but little confidence in the blockading of the roads south of the Jackson road; something has been done, however, and will help a little if Johnston should attempt to come in that way. Ord’s cavalry watch all the ferries south of Baldwin’s, and though they sometimes see rebel cavalry east of the river, yet they discover no signs of an attempt to cross.
I sent out a scout, who traveled for some time east from Big Black River bridge and south of the railroad. He says no troops have gone south of the railroad This statement is made by a deserter from one of the Texas brigades stationed at Bolton Station; but this information is several days old. In the mean time Johnston may have changed his plans and the position of his troops half a dozen times. You need not fear, general, my tender heart getting the better of me, so as to send the secession ladies to your front; on the contrary, I rather think it advisable to send out every living being from your lines, and arrest all persons found within who are not connected with the army.
Very truly, yours,
U. S. GRANT
I issued the following orders to clarify our position to the whole army:
GENERAL ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS Fifteenth ARMY CORPS,
Camp at Bear Creek, June 29, 1863
The following modifications of existing orders are made and will be executed at once:
I. General Osterhaus will continue, as heretofore, to hold the fortified position on Black River, at the railroad bridge, with patrols and guards, watching the river below as far as Baldwin’s, and up as far as Bridgeport; his reserves at Clear Creek, near Bovina.
II. General McArthur will occupy Tiffin in force, with guards toward the Messinger Ford, connecting with Osterhaus on the Bridgeport road, and his main guards occupying the main ridge up as far as Brant’s.
III. Major-General Parke will leave a small guard at Milldale and Templeton’s, sufficient to hold those points, and move all the troops of the NINTH Army Corps to the east side of Clear Creek, connecting his guards at Brant’s with McArthur’s, his center near Wixon’s and his guards connecting with General W. S. Smith’s, near Mrs. Neily’s.
IV. General Tuttle will hold present position on the spur leading from McCall’s to Markham’s and Young’s, and will entrench a position back of Trible’s.
V. General W. S. Smith will hold as now his position at Oak Ridge Post-Office, with guards forward on the two Benton roads, and his right connecting with General Parke, at Mrs. Neily’s. General Smith, in connection with General Washburn, will effectually blockade all roads and paths coming from the north and lying between the ridge road and Yazoo Valley road.
VI. General Washburn will hold the fortified position at Haynes’ Bluff, with Kimball’s DIVISION, and will continue to strengthen the lines on the north front. That being our strongest front, we should invite attack in that quarter,
VII. This disposition of forces makes a connected line from the railroad bridge to Haynes’ Bluff, by Tiffin, Wixon’s, McCall’s, Neily’s, and Oak Ridge. Each corps and DIVISION commander will proceed to entrench a position near his key-point, sufficient for two batteries and one brigade, commanding water, and looking to the east and north. All roads to the rear should be improved; a double track for wagons made by opening fences and trimming out woods. Lateral roads should also be looked to, to facilitate concentration and lateral movements. Roads to the front should be obstructed, except such as are necessary for our guards and our own use. The commanding general, after careful personal inspection, pronounces the points from which we have most reason to apprehend danger, to be the two fords at Messenger’s, and about a mile below Birdsong, Wixon’s, and Neily’s are the best points for concentration, and the ridges by Fox’s and Markham’s the best lines of operation.
VIII. All the cavalry not absolutely needed for orderlies and patrols will be massed under command of Colonel Bussey, THIRD Iowa, on Bear Creek, from Young’s up to Harris’, and is charged specially to watch the lower Benton road and the ford below Birdsong.
IX. All commanders of corps and DIVISIONS, and the chief of cavalry, will report by letter or staff officer daily to the commanding general at his bivouac near Tuttle’s.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.