I am preparing an army to move against General Johnston. General Grant sends me word of the surrender and troop movements
NEAR Vicksburg, July 4, 1863
Ord will only get off a DIVISION of his corp tonight, and balance tomorrow. Steele will get off before daylight tomorrow; I have just returned from a visit to the admiral, at Vicksburg Landing. The number of prisoners as given by the rebels is 27,000. There is much more artillery than we thought; the field-pieces are given at 128, and about 100 siege guns.
U. S. GRANT.
I replied as follows:
HEADQUARTERS EXPEDITION, Fox’s, July 4, 1863
Your dispatch announcing the magnitude of the capture of Vicksburg is most gratifying; the importance of the place in our case cannot be exaggerated. I have left Kimball’s DIVISION at Haynes’ Bluff, with instructions to picket at Oak Ridge. I will order General McArthur to relieve Osterhaus at the bridge tomorrow, so that Osterhaus may report to General Ord. Three bridges will be built tomorrow at Birdsong, Messinger’s and the railroad crossing. Tomorrow, I suppose, Ord and Steele will be up, so that next day I will cross and move in force on Bolton.
The enemy showed one gun opposite Messinger’s, (this place); I am willing for Johnston to meet us at once, the nearer the river the better. If he declines, I will follow promptly to Clinton; then I can discover if Johnston is scattered or concentrated, when I will act accordingly. I have not yet heard if the prisoners are to be paroled here or sent north. The farmers and families out here acknowledge the magnitude of this loss, and now beg to know their fate. All crops are destroyed and cattle eaten up. You will give their case your attention as soon as more important business is disposed of. At least I promise them this. I advise, then, if you find a locomotive, that you run cars out to Big Black River and make that a depot.
Please tell Wilson or Miles D. McAlester about the maps east of Big Black River; I am without any. I feel an intense curiosity to see Vicksburg and its people, but recognize the importance of my present task, and think of nothing else. I will keep a few orderlies at Osterhaus’, which is now my nearest telegraph office.
W. T. SHERMAN
I have communicated to General Osterhaus:
CAMP AT FOX’S, July 4, 1863
General OSTERHAUS, Railroad Bridge:
DEAR GENERAL: You are already aware that I am ordered to move across Black River to attack Johnston. I propose that Ord’s corps cross at your position, mine at Messinger’s, above Bridgeport, and Parke at Birdsong. You now have a bridge, and the other corps are now at the other points, and will make theirs tomorrow. The next day I want to move direct on Bolton. You will, on General Ord’s arrival, report to him, and be prepared to move with him.
McPherson’s corps remains at Vicksburg, of which General McArthur has three brigades. Two of these will relieve you at the Ridge. Impart to McArthur, the benefit of your knowledge of the position and surrounding country, and advise him as to the advisability of getting a locomotive and cars in Vicksburg, to bring out supplies to the bridge, as a depot for us during our movement on Johnston.
The enemy displayed quite a force at Messinger’s this p. m., with a gun. Please feel forward with a small force as far as Amsterdam. I am perfectly willing the enemy should come as far this way as possible, as I fear the dust, heat, and drought quite as much as the enemy. The nearer he comes to our depot the better.
The importance of Vicksburg increases as examined. General Grant telegraphs 27,000 prisoners, 127 field guns, and 100 heavy barbette and siege guns. These are large figures for our country, and remind one of the old country. I will see General Ord before we actually cross Black River, and will mention you, as I believe you are comparative strangers. Have you any maps of the ground east of the Black? I sent my old ones off, supposing we were done with them. I have sent to Vicksburg for a supply, but would be glad to have any that you possess to copy from.
Truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN