On board Westmoreland, en route for Memphis
Captain Badeau, of General Grant’s staff, bearing the following letter, of March 4th. It appears that Grant will be given the highest command over all the army. This is a big step in this war.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, March 4, 1864
The bill reviving the grade of lieutenant-general in the army has become a law, and my name has been sent to the Senate for the place.
I now receive orders to report at Washington immediately, in person, which indicates either a confirmation or a likelihood of confirmation. I start in the morning to comply with the order, but I shall say very distinctly on my arrival there that I shall accept no appointment which will require me to make that city my headquarters. This, however, is not what I started out to write about.
While I have been eminently successful in this war, in at least gaining the confidence of the public, no one feels more than I how much of this success is due to the energy, skill, and the harmonious putting forth of that energy and skill, of those whom it has been my good fortune to have occupying subordinate positions under me.
There are many officers to whom these remarks are applicable to a greater or less degree, proportionate to their ability as soldiers; but what I want is to express my thanks to you and McPherson, as the men to whom, above all others, I feel indebted for whatever I have had of success. How far your advice and suggestions have been of assistance, you know. How far your execution of whatever has been given you to do entitles you to the reward I am receiving, you cannot know as well as I do. I feel all the gratitude this letter would express, giving it the most flattering construction.
The word you I use in the plural, intending it for McPherson also. I should write to him, and will some day, but, starting in the morning, I do not know that I will find time just now.
U. S. GRANT, Major-General
In addition, the following order were received:
Nashville, Tennessee March 4th 1864
Major General W. T. Sherman, commanding Department of the Tennessee
You will be able better than me to judge how far the damage you have done the railroads about Meridian will disable the enemy from sending an Army into Mississippi and West Tennessee with which to operate on the river: also what force will now be required to protect and guard the river. Use the negroes, or negro troops, more particularly for guarding plantations and for the defense of the West bank of the river. Make but little calculation on their services East of the river. The Artilleriests among them of course you will put in fortifications, but most of the Infantry give to Hawkins to be used on the West bank.
Add to this element of your forces what you deem an adequate force for the protection of the river, from Cairo down as far as your command goes, and extend the command of one Army Corps to the whole of it. Assemble the balance of your forces at, or near, Memphis and have them in readiness to join your column on this front in their Spring Campaign. Whether it will be better to have them march, meeting supplies sent up the Tennessee to East Port, or whether they should be brought round to the latter place by steamers can be determined hereafter. Add all the forces now under Dodge to the two Corps, or to one of the two Corps, you take into the field with you.
Forces will be transferred from the Chattanooga and Nashville road to guard all the road now protected by your troops. If they are not sufficient enough will be taken from elsewhere to leave all yours for the field.
I am ordered to Washington but as I am directed to keep up telegraphic communication with this command, I shall expect in the course of ten or twelve days, to return to it.
Place the Marine Brigade under the command of the Corps Commander left on the Miss, river. Give directions that it be habitually used for the protection of leased plantations1 and will not pass below Vicksburg nor above Greenville except by order of the Corps Commander, or higher authority.
I am General, very respectfully your obedient servant
U. S. Grant, Major General Commanding