I sent a report the Grant’s Headquarters:
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi,
Nashville, Tenn., April 4. 1864
Brigadier General J. A. Rawlins, Chief of General Grant’s Staff, Washington, D. C.:
Since my return lo Nashville I have made the complete circuit, going with McPherson to Decatur, Larkins Ferry, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. This enabled me to see all my corps and division commanders, and to learn the actual state of affairs.
I have made few or no changes, but have suggested some by telegraph, a copy of which I inclose as it is yet, unanswered.
I am sending all of Hovey’s infantry to Schofield to enable him to return to Thomas Granger’s troops that are properly his. I am assembling Garrard’s division of cavalry on the right flank, near Columbia, and will give Stoueman all the cavalry of Schofield’s department to organize in Kentucky, say near Lexington, to move to the front when there is grass and when I have forage enough at the front. At present the railroads supply bountifully the troops there, but make no surplus.
I am making troops march, cattle ditto, and am cutting down sutlers’ and private business so as to gain cars for surplus stores and forage. I am endeavoring to persuade the railroad superintendent to run the cars in a circuit so as to work as an endless chain, but the habit of running by a time-table is so strong that 1 find him disinclined.
If I could see McCallum I could convince him that his present-stock could do douhle the present work by making the round circuit by Stevenson and Decatur, all the cars running one way loaded and bringing in the empty cars.
I want to have on the line of the Tennessee by May 1 enough stores to enable me to move on, if General Grant so orders it. To do this I calculate that Schofield should have 12,000 men, Thomas 45.000 and McPherson 30,000 besides the railroad guards and depot garrisons. I propose that Schofield should be prepared to move from Cleveland. Thomas from Chattanooga, and Mcpherson from Gunter’s Lauding on the Rome road. All my plans are subordinate to these general ideas.
Forrest got a severe rebuff by Hicks at Paducah, and still lingers somewhere between the Tennessee and Mississippi and above the Hatchie. I want to keep him there awhile, when I hope to give him a complete thrashing. I ordered Paducah, Cairo, and Columbus to be held secure. Have placed Veatch with five regiments of infantry at Purdy, and ordered Hurlbut with all of Grierson’s cavalry and 2,400 infantry to watch the line of the Hatchie and to catch Forrest in flank as he attempts to pass out.
Last night I sent General Corse down the Cumberland in a steamboat to touch at Paducah, Cairo, and Columbus, with orders and verbal explanations to all these commanders. He is then to push on to Memphis, explain the same to Hurlbut, and then hurry up the Red River to General A. J. Smith, and bring him with all dispatch to Vicksburg and up the Yazoo, and rapidly occupy Grenada. His appearance there with 10,000 men, now hardened “by our march to Meridian and recent marching up Bed River, will be a big bombshell in Forrest’s camp should he, as I fear he will, elude Hurlbut.
At Grenada, Smith will do all the mischief he can and then strike boldly across the country by Aberdeen to Russellville and Decatur, there making his junction with McPherson. This, with Crocker’s and Legget’s divisions to rendezvous at Cairo after their furloughs, will make a large decrease of our Mississippi River forces: but I order McPherson to keep one white division at Vicksburg and another at Memphis, which, with the black troops, the Marine Brigade and the gun-boats, should suffice to protect the river commerce, especially since we have so ruined Meridian that the enemy cannot supply an army near the river with either ammunition or provisions. It is all nonsense about their repairing the break at Meridian; it is a simple impossibility.
I would like to have General Grant’s opinion as to this move of Smith’s across from Grenada. I deem it safe, and its effect will in a measure compensate for the ill effects of William “Sooy Smith’s repulse and Forrest’s recent raid. With 10,000 men and two such flashing officers as Corse and Mower, A. J. Smith can whip all the cavalry and infantry (if any) in North Mississippi. I cannot hope that Hurlbut will ever do any bold act; on the defensive he may do well enough, but I cannot inspire him with offensive ideas.
I want Newton at Vicksburg for safety, and I would like a bold, dashing officer at Memphis, but I will await the assignment of generals, which will I hope, be made me before I commit myself to others. Old Hicks has done so well that he should have a life estate at Paducah, but both Hurlbut and Brayman are too easily stampeded to hold the points they now do after their garrisons are reduced, as they must be in a short time.
At present and for some time Cairo will be strong by reason of McPherson’s veterans rendezvousing there, en route for his headquarters via the Tennessee River.
I think General Grant never heartily approved the Red River trip. I would not. either, had I not foreseen a necessary delay in operations in Virginia and here, from the time consumed by the furloughs; but since that expedition has developed, the fact that the enemy was hard at work to close Red River to us, and the handsome manner in which his works were carried by my troops, I think he will have changed his opinion.
I have yet no official reports, but doubt not those contained in the newspapers are substantially correct, as the names and dates correspond with my orders and instructions.
General Banks positively agreed with me that our troops should form a junction at Alexandria on the 17th of March. Mine were there on time, capturing Fort de Russy en route; and since it is reported they are up at Natchitoches, which is all right. It seems Banks did not leave New Orleans till March 22; this is not right. This failure in time in conjoint operations is wrong, because it endangers the troops that punctually obey orders. I suppose that Steele is moving on Shreveport with 7,000, and Banks with 17,000. These are enough to co-operate with the gun-boats, and therefore I rightfully claim my 10,000, with General A, J. Smith, at the time agreed on, viz, thirty days after the time they entered Red River, which expires April 10, at which time General Corse should find them at Alexandria and conduct them to their new field of operations. I will move heaven and earth to have my command ready for war as early in May as the furloughed men return, and this you can better expedite from Washington than I can from here.
I will not bother the general at all, but will keep him well advised of all real movements. He must not be disturbed by the foolish rumors that will get into newspapers spite of all precautions.
Write me answers to my inquiries as early as possible, even if they have been answered by telegraph.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding