Friday, September 25, 1863

Camp on the Big Black River, Near Vicksburg, Mississippi

I have issued orders to my supply officers and commanders to get ready for our movements. We will leave Vicksburg by boats for Memphis as soon as they are ready.

SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, September 25, 1863
Colonel J. CONDIT SMITH, Bridge:

Prepare to move our whole establishment up to Memphis and across to Chattanooga. Everything will go, all my staff and two more divisions. Keep it to yourself, but begin to move things into Vicksburg. I will give more specific orders soon. Have all transportation ready.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, September 25, 1863
Colonel MORTON, Black River Bridge:

Don’t bring out any more provisions; get ready to turn over everything to the brigade commissaries of the Third Division. We will all move by water to Memphis and thence inland.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, September 25, 1863
General OSTERHAUS, Black River Bridge:

I have ordered two companies of cavalry to relieve the picket at Batcheldor’s, below Silver Creek; you can call our pickets in.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

GENERAL ORDERS, HDQRS. FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS, 
No. 74.
Camp on Black River, September 25, 1863

The Second and Fourth Division of this corps will be held in readiness to embark for Memphis and move thence to the interior.

The sick and surplus baggage will be at once moved to Black River Railroad Bridge, and thence by rail to Vicksburg to the levee below the steamboat landing.

The quartermaster’s department will furnish the necessary transportation.

The troops will be prepared to strike camp at a moment’s notice, and march to Vicksburg for embarkation.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General

I have written to General Hurlbut at Memphis:

HEADQUARTERS FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Camp on Big Black, September 25, 1863
Major General S. A. HURLBUT, 
Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps:

DEAR GENERAL:
Yours of September 19 was received on the 23rd instant. I had at 10 a.m. received a dispatch from General Grant at Vicksburg embodying that of General Halleck to you, ordering me to send one of my divisions for embarkation up river. At 4 p.m. General Osterhaus’ division, my First, the same that Steele brought to me at Helena, was marching, and I went to Vicksburg and saw them embarking. They are now nearly up to Memphis. I used extraordinary dispatch, and confined my actions to my orders. Halleck’s dispatch used my name, either supposing General Grant to be still at New Orleans, or calculating my corps would be sent. General Grant has communicated to me the fact that in case his aide [Captain Audenried] returns and reports that the re-enforcements for Rosecrans go up by river and railroad through Louisville and Nashville, he wants me to overtake them and command them as a detachment from his army. But if you think the route via Corinth, Bear Creek, Huntsville, and Stevenson the best, then he prefers that you should take your whole corps, an entirety, leaving the District of West Tennessee to be held by the detachments that have gone up from McPherson’s and my corps. I now await action which depends on the report brought back by Audenried.

I do not believe that re-enforcements can reach Rosecrans from us in time to act in any combination now existing. If Rosecrans be pressed by re-enforcements to Bragg, he must needs take the defensive for the time being, and we should assemble here and at Jackson as large a force of men and as much transportation as we can, and press toward Meridian, Demopolis, and Selma, making a powerful diversion, which would instantaneously force Joe Johnston to give up the entire Mobile and Ohio Railroad, as well as the rich country on the Tombigbee, or hasten to the relief of Mobile. This would relieve Rosecrans much more speedily than any re-enforcements we can throw around to Rosecrans. Still, I have abundant faith in Halleck, and will play his game.

Should you conclude it best to re-enforce Rosecrans by the round-about way, I will start and overtake my men at Cairo and push on with all speed to Nashville and Chattanooga; but at this distance, I cannot estimate the time. I hate to break up my corps, but cannot help it. I await Audenried’s return and Grant’s orders.

With great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

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