I received the following news from General Grant through General McArthur and the Big Black River. Port Hudson has surrendered and the Mississippi is now open along its entire length.
Vicksburg, MISSISSIPPI, July 11, 1863
Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Commanding Expedition:
DEAR GENERAL: Dispatches just received from General Banks announces the good news of the surrender of Port Hudson, with 5,000 prisoners and all the armament of the place. News came from the East of the defeat of Lee and his precipitate retreat, with Meade in full pursuit. I have nothing definite from you since the morning of the 9th, but, not hearing, suppose all is right. Is there any probability that Johnston may be receiving re-enforcements and intends standing?
I have just learned from Yazoo City that all the steamers from above have just come down there, and that Johnston sent orders to press all the negroes that can be got, to prosecute the work of fortifying with all vigor. More than 1,000 negroes are said to be at work now. I immediately ordered a DIVISION from here to break them up.
The well prisoners have been paroled and about out of town. The number reached near 25,000. There are still those in hospital, near 6,000, yet to parole, besides many escaped without paroling.
Hoping to hear of your giving Johnston a good thrashing and driving him beyond Pearl River, with the loss of artillery, transportation, and munitions of war.
I remain, yours truly,
U. S. GRANT
I replied to McArthur with instructions to forward information to General Grant:
HEADQUARTERS Fifteenth ARMY CORPS, Camp before Jackson,
July 12, 1863 10 a. m.
Brigadier General John McARTHUR, Commanding DIVISION, Black River:
DEAR GENERAL: Your kind note and gratifying dispatches are just received. The news exceeds my best hope. Please, on all occasions, write me fully the news. I have met no accident or reverse. Nothing troubles me but water. Johnston has taken refuge in Jackson with all his army, variously estimated at figures similar to what we had before crossing the Black. The place has been completely fortified and strengthened, and the lines extended so as to rest on Pearl River. I have the place closely invested, and have this morning given them an hour’s shelling. The full effect is not yet reported.
All my trains are up, and I have ten days’ rations in camp. I am within 35 miles of your depot, to which I hear cars are regularly moving. Please telegraph to have sent to you about 4,000 rounds of ammunition for 20-pounder Parrotts and 10,000 rounds of 6-pounder case shot. Also 1,000,000 rounds of assorted musket ammunition, to be sent forward to me on call, or when you have reason to believe me in want.
You could make me feel more easy as to the enemy’s cavalry threatening my communications if you would occasionally send an expedition to Raymond and Brownsville. Such expeditions could move from Messinger’s or the bridge, could collect cattle and corn, as well as pick up parties disposed to attack my trains; but I will so arrange that all trains be well guarded. I sent down to Clinton two regiments to escort in the wagon train brought up by Colonel Hall, and have it brought up here, instead of unloading at Clinton. When it returns. I will have it securely guarded.
I have sent out expeditions in certain directions, to fulfill General Grant’s object, but cannot speak of them now. If General Grant sends out a new DIVISION, I want it posted on Baker’s Creek, near Champion’s Hill, to picket out well to the right and left, and forward to Bolton, the officer to send forward to me a report of his position.
We are all in good health and spirits, in possession of all avenues out of Jackson this side of Pearl River, and are now threatening the rear.
W. T. SHERMAN