Camp at Bear Creek 20 miles East of Vicksburg, Mississippi
General Grant is worried that Johnston’s army may try to cross the Big Black River south of the Railroad Bridge. Some activity with enemy cavalry has been reported at Hankinson’s Ferry. I received this message from General Grant:
NEAR Vicksburg, MISSISSIPPI, July 1, 1863
The enemy have shown some force this side of the Black, at Hankinson’s Ferry. Ord sends out one brigade tonight to watch them. They may try a direction to the south of the city, with the view of drawing as much force in that direction as possible. I will let you know all that takes place as early as possible.
I replied to General Grant:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
July 1, 1863.
General GRANT: I am just in from a circuit. All is absolutely silent along Big Black River.
One of your best scouts, Tuttle, is just in from Bolton, where I sent him to see if he could learn if any part of Johnston’s army had passed south of the railroad; especially to watch the course of army wagons. He could see or hear nothing to show that a movement south was in progress. I will send him out to Auburn to-night.
Osterhaus watches Baldwin’s and Hall’s Ferries. It might be well to send a small force to the red church, between Warrenton and Hankinson’s, to make a show. My troops are in such a position that they could reach Noland or Whitaker in five hours. Big Bayou should be made impassable.
I am at one bridge, as high up as possible, shortening the neck between it and the branch (see your map), and I have a good road to run between the railroad, via Tiffin, Bovina, and Noland. I think Johnston may feint to the south, but do not think he will risk chances in the pocket of the Black River. Still, we must watch him close. I will have a scout out on an old road from Rocky Springs and Auburn, and can tell quickly if anything is afloat.
Everybody still reports a few rebel force at Mechanicsburg, Vernon, Brownsville, and Bolton. Militia collecting at Jackson. Johnston vibrating between Jackson and Canton.
I have asked Tuttle to go to Hall Ferry in person and report the truth of the situation to me. It is important that we know Joe Johnston’s intentions.
JULY 1, 1863 2 p. m.
General Grant supposes Johnston to be feeling around toward the lower ferries. I don’t think he will put his army in such a pocket. Yet it becomes us to leave nothing to conjecture. I want the bearer of this message, Tuttle, to go to your extreme picket, and there get a couple men to go with him, to the river near Hall’s Ferry, there to leave horses and the companions, and for Tuttle to go afoot up to the road about Auburn or Cayuga, to watch the road. If an army is passing or has passed, he can easily distinguish the fact by signs, or he may in his own way impersonate a straggler, and find out all from some farmer or negro. Please afford him every possible facility, as time is pressing. I have been along my front, and the silence and absence of an enemy is more ominous to me than the sharpshooting of Vicksburg. We must discover the whereabouts of our enemy positively. If scattered from Mechanicsburg to Vernon, Brownsville, Jackson, Canton, and Bolton, though good for concentration, it will take time. Please give Tuttle an order to your pickets, and, if necessary to facilitate his movements, let him have a fresh horse.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,