Thursday, January 21, 1864

Memphis, Tennessee

My orders for the Mississippi were issued when I was en route to Memphis. As I discussed with General Hurlbut, the treasury agents will have most of the responsibility for permits. This will relieve us of paperwork.


Numbers 11. Memphis, Tenn., January 18, 1864.

I. By direction of Major General W. T. Sherman, commanding Department and Army of the Tennessee, the control of the commerce and of commercial intercourse on the Mississippi River is committed exclusively to the agents of the Treasury Department, who will be responsible for the amounts, character, and disposition of the supplies permitted, and of the character of persons to whom the same are given. No permits will be hereafter required or given by military officers, except in the cases of purely military and sutler’s supplies.

II. In cases where information received satisfies any military officers of this command of the insecurity of any point or district on the Mississippi or its tributaries, it will be competent for him to notify the Treasury officers not to permit goods to such point or district until further notice, which caution it will be the duty of the Treasury officers to respect.

III. The inland trade through the lines of pickets of a military post will be controlled by such system as may be agreed by the local officers of the Treasury and army, to prevent the undue passage of articles designed for, or which may be used by, rebels in arms.

IV. In addition to the articles declared contraband of war by regulations, boots, shoes, blankets, woolen socks, leather off all descriptions, medicines, gray and mixed woolen cloths and jeans, and all descriptions of saddler are among the articles to be zealously watched and not permitted, except to person of established loyalty in safe neighborhoods and for their own use.

V. Whenever military officers have information that articles contraband of war are being sent, even under permits, or that different articles from those mentioned in the permits are being taken out, they will seize the same, and proceed to investigate the case; in any other cases the matters will be left wholly to the Treasury officers.

By order of Major General S. A. Hurlbut:


Also wrote a letter to General Grant on board the Silver Queen which I sent upon arrival at Memphis.

Steam-boat Silver Cloud, January 19, 1864.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Via Nashville:


I am now on my return to Memphis, which we shall reach tomorrow, the 20th, and if I find all things as I expect shall start all hands by the 25th. The river is now clear of ice thus far up and we hope to find none this side of Memphis, but the water is from 12 to 20 feet lower than it was at same period last year and therefore to ascend Red River will be impossible. But the other trip will do most for our department and your army; therefore I do not regret it.

The guerrillas seem to let the boats pass unmolested, and so long as the as they do, we can afford to encourage the people to reoccupy their lands and resume their industrial pursuits. I found General McPherson in fine health; his troops in like condition, only 4 per cent. on the sick report. He has 21,000 effective men, that he can take with him 10,000 and leave Vicksburg and Natchez, the only points in his district fit with stationary artillery, safe against any probable danger.

As near as I can ascertain, General Polk’s command at Meridian, with Loring at Canton; his division has not over 8,000. Conscripts at Brandon and Enterprise. Forrest has North Mississippi, and not over 2,500 irregular cavalry. Cosby’s and Whitfield’s brigades are still watching on their old ground from Yazoo City via Brownsville, Canton, Jackson, Brandon, and Port Gibson, a thin line of guard, to prevent intercourse with Vicksburg. Lonegan’s old command, now commanded by Wirt Adams, is down behind Port Hudson and Baton Rouge, doubtless to prevent the people from becoming too familiar with Yankees. I have one of my best Memphis private spies out, who will be back in time to let me know all we want.

I observe you were right in your calculation that Longstreet would be re-enforced in East Tennessee and make a struggle for that region. Halleck should compel a movement in North Carolina on Weldon and Raleigh, if possible, which would, in connection with active demonstrations against the Alabama border, force the enemy to call back the re-enforcements or to allow these valuable district to be overrun by us. If we could draw all of Lee’s army into East Tennessee they would be bound to go ahead or fall back. The mountains on either flank will restrict their line to the railroad, and the army which is on the defensive has the advantage.

I will write to Logan and Dodge to hurry the railroad and try and be there in February. The fortification of Vicksburg are nearly done, the redoubt at Mrs. Lane’s house being the only one incomplete. McPherson tells me those of natchez are equally advanced.

I am, with great respect,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Boat trembles, and my writing is more illegible than ever.

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