Camp On Big Black River, Near Vicksburg, Mississippi
I am ordered to West Tennessee with two more divisions of my corps. This leaves one of my divisions here, a division of McPherson’s, already above will be added to my Corp. Grant thinks we should move our army from here toward Mobile, Alabama. That would force Bragg to respond and take pressure off Rosecrans. There are very few enemy troops between here and Mobile.
Instead I am to go to Memphis and then move East along the railroad through Corinth and Tuscumbia. I have a rebel commander coming into camp under flag of truce. I will wait until after he leaves before issuing orders. It is best to disguise our movement from the enemy. I wrote this reply to Grant’s Headquarters:
SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, September 25, 1863
General RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Vicksburg:
I have just inspected and reviewed my Fourth Division. I will take the Second and Fourth Divisions and leave Tuttle’s; this division and the cavalry can cover the points of Big Black.
McPherson will be out tomorrow, and I will show him everything and leave him to dispose of the force left behind. I have ordered the sick and all surplus baggage to be sent in by cars, and will hold the troops to march at an hour’s notice, having their wagons ready to load up. I can easily start on Sunday, and embark by Monday, if you have the boats.
You remember the report of the board determining the battles each regiment of my command could inscribe on their colors. Do you understand that the order for such inscription is made by the War Department, by you, or by me? I want to bring up the records to date in case I have to go to Chattanooga. I hear from the interior [merely a rumor] that Rosecrans advanced from the Tennessee, but was compelled to fall back to Chattanooga. The flag of truce which goes out today can bring more definite news.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.