Tuesday, April 19, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

Thomas Reports no movements from Johnston’s army to re enforce Lee.
General McPherson sent me orders for Hurlbut and Slocum for my review.
I hear from Cairo that Banks and Smith have had a battle up Red River in Arkansas which may delay the arrival of Smith here.
I have ordered that no provision should be given to civilians. If they cannot provide for themselves, they must go to the rear.
Schofield has information that Longstreet has marched off to join Lee’s army.
I hear from Hurlbut that Forrest has escaped to the south.

I sent this report to Grant:

Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi Nashville, Tennessee April 19, 1864
General John A. Rawlins, Chief of General Grant’s Staff, Washington, D. C


I received a dispatch from General Grant asking me if the report that Johnston was sending off Hardee’s corps was true. I have answered that Thomas thinks not. You know how easy such reports get currency. I have read every official report from all quarters very carefully, and the only one which even dints at such a thing is one from Thomas—the words of a deserter, taken down by the usual provost-marshal, under date of April 15, that there was a camp rumor in Johnston’s camp when he left that Hardee”s corps was to be sent to Virginia; but subsequent reports describe minutely the position and strength of the rebel army as unchanged since you left, save that a heavy cavalry force is being collected near the Coosa, abreast of Guntersville. evidently for the purpose of watching McPherson. Although I have daily the reports of thousands and tens of thousands marching and raiding all round the compass, yet I have now scouts in from Memphis, who bring in passes and papers from Selma, Montgomery, West Point. Opelika. and Talladega, and from them I learn that tilings remain as I describe above.

Thomas is gradually drawing down his command to a common focus Chattanooga.

Schofield has infantry force at Bull’s Gap and a small cavalry force beyond, but is preparing to have about 19,000 infantry near Hiwassee at the time appointed: May 1, with his cavalry, under Stoneman, remounting and refitting as fast as possible near Lexington, Ky., whence at the right time 1 will move them to the Hiwassee. McPherson has Decatur well fortified, and is examining the river carefully to ascertain the best point to cross over. He still is in doubt whether Guntersville or Whitesburg be the place, but one or the other is, and our bridge at Larkin’s can, on a short notice, drop down.

This will give him two good points of invasion. I am doing all I can to get forward the necessary stores, and more still to diminish the useless mouths that eat up our substance.

I inclose you two orders, which arc preliminary, but I am resolved when General Grant gives the word to attack Johnston in the manner I have heretofore described, if our men have to live on beef and salt; they will do it if necessary, we know.

As long as cavalry officers can let their horses run down and get a remount by a mere requisition they will bankrupt any Government. Grierson had 7,000 horses when I made up the Meridian count, and Smith and he reported the capture of some 4,000 animals, and yet now the excuse for not attacking Forrest is that he can mount only 2,400 men. Even with that he should have attacked the enemy at Somerville, as it was then known Forrest was up about Paducah with a considerable force, and what was at Somerville was of course only a part and should have been fought at all odds.

At Memphis are Buckland’s full brigade of splendid troops. 2,000. Three other white regiments, one of black artillery, in Fort Pickering, 1,200 strong, about 1,000 men floating, who are camped in the fort, near 4,000 black troops; 3,000 enrolled and armed militia, and all of Grierson’s cavalry, 10,983, according to my last returns, of which surely not over 3,000 are on furlough. Out of this a splendid force of about 2,500 well-mounted cavalry and 4,000 infantry could have been made up, and by moving to Bolivar could have made Forrest come there to fight or get out.

I have sent Sturgis down to take command of that cavalry and whip Forrest, and, if necessary, to mount enough men to seize any and all the horses of Memphis, or wherever he may go.

The forces of Fort Pillow are not on my returns. I broke it up, and the garrison was composed of a regiment of Tennesseeans enlisting, and four companies of blacks, of which I have no satisfactory report as yet, but have sent for full details. It does seem as though Forrest has our men down there in cow, but I will try new leaders, for I believe our men will fight if led.

I think everything hereabouts is working as well as I can promise, and if A. J. Smith is coming and McPherson’s two furloughed divisions reach us I will be ready at the drop of a hat to cross the Tennessee and pitch in.

I sent for the Governor of Kentucky and he is well satisfied with all the steps taken, and undertakes by his militia and the troops now controlled by Burbridge to catch the wandering guerrillas and keep peace in his State.

But we are now independent of Kentucky, for there are here now all the essentials for an army of 80,000 men for six months. Railroad accidents are still happening, but as seldom as we could expect.

I am, &c,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I wrote to General Thomas, my view of the situation and what to expect from Johnston:

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee, April 19, 1864

Major-General Thomas, Commanding Department of the Cumberland, Chattanooga

I have read with interest General Geary’s report and your indorsements. With all the facts before me, especially the complete details of the facts given by your scouts, I have no doubt that Johnston’s main army is on the railroad at or near Dalton ; that it is about 40,000 strong, well commanded and in good order, but it cannot move many days’ march, except along the Line of that road, front and rear; that he has a good force of cavalry, one part of which is kept to his right rear for food, and that another part, say 4.000 men, are on his left, over about the Blue Mountain Depot, for the same purpose, and to watch the assemblage of the Army of the Tennessee, which he knows threatens his left flank, and which has two good bridges with which to pass the Tennessee at pleasure. This cavalry, with some infantry supports, are seen often at Larkin’s and at Decatur, and some skirmishing has been carried on with them, but we want to mask our force by the Tennessee till the right time. Of course, then, McPherson can sweep them from his front as a cobweb.

At Blue Mountain Depot this cavalry gets corn, which is sent up from the line of the railroad and Selma, and this point is the present terminus of that railroad.

It is 10 miles south of Jacksonville, which is 22 miles east by south of Gadsden, which is full 45 miles from Guntersville, the nearest point of the Tennessee. I have no apprehension of a raid on our right, for the reason that the enemy cannot pass the Tennessee, save at isolated points, and then only in small parties; besides, the stream of troops soon to come up the Tennessee from Cairo, and across to Huntsville, from Savannah and Clifton, will serve to cover that flank. Still we must push our measures to accumulate a surplus of all essentials to the front, so that a temporary interruption will not cripple us or delay our general plans, which remain unchanged.

The only real move I see for Joe Johnston is to strike your line at his nearest point, about Cleveland or Ooltewah, but this he cannot reach without first fighting the Ringgold force. I advise you to group your commands so as to admit of easy and rapid concentration at such point as your judgment approves, and be careful not to accumulate stores anywhere but inside of Chattanooga.

The season is now mild, and even surplus tents and all useless baggage should thus be placed, that the troops in camp could pick up and move at the shortest notice. Study all means to save wagons and transportation, at all events till our advance passes the Coosa.

Please continue as heretofore the scout reports. I have two smart girls who have just come in from Memphis via Okolona, Columbus, Selma, Montgomery, West Point, back to Selma, up the railroad to Talladega and Blue Mountain, whence they crossed on foot by way of Gadsden, Black River, Will’s Creek, Town Creek, and Larkin’s. They saw little or no infantry, and the only cavalry they saw was at the Blue Mountain and close up to the Tennessee River.

I am, &c,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I received letters from McPherson to review before they are sent to Hurlbut and Slocum:

Headquarters, Department and Army of the Tennessee,
Huntsville, Alabama, April 19, 1864

Major General S. A. Hurlbut, Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps, Memphis, Tennessee


Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant has ordered three regiments from Saint-Louis to Cairo, with which to re-enforce Paducah, Cairo, and Columbus, and to feel out to Union City. Union City is not to be garrisoned, but visited frequently by patrols and scouting parties.

Brigadier General S. D. Sturgis is en route for Memphis to assume command of all the cavalry in that vicinity, and to move out and attack Forrest wherever he can be found. Direct Brigadier-General Grierson to seize all the horses and mules, or as many as may be necessary, in Memphis to mount your cavalry and have them ready for service when General Sturgis arrives, and have Brigadier-General Buck-land’s brigade of infantry ready to move out with cavalry.

As soon as it can be done, a force will be organized at Cairo, composed of detachments and veteran regiments belonging to the Seventeenth Army Corps, under Brigadier-General Gresham. and proceed up the Tennessee River, and co-operate with the force from Memphis from the vicinity of Purdy.

Major-General Slocum is en route for Vicksbnrg and will immediately organize a force and strike at the enemy from Yazoo City and threaten Grenada.
On the return of the Red River expedition, Brigadier-General Mower’s division will stop at Memphis and be subject to your orders. The remainder of the force under Brig. General A. J. Smith will move, as heretofore directed, up the Tennessee River via Cairo.
Major Geneneral C. C. Washburn is ordered to Memphis to assume command of the forces in that vicinity, and Brigadier-General Prince to Columbus, Ky. Colonel Hicks remains in command at Paducah. You will for the present take post at Cairo and assume general control of the movements against Forrest.

All the troops along the Mississippi River must act with vigor against any force of the enemy within striking distance. Paducah, Cairo, Columbus, Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez should be held at all hazards, and all minor points which are exposed should be evacuated.

The colored troops within your jurisdiction are under your control and cannot be moved or their station changed without your orders. There are two regiments of colored troops organized under authority of Brig. Gen. L. Thomas, Adjutant-General, from men in contraband camps not physically qualified for active service, which have never been borne on our returns, but have been employed guarding these camps, under the direction of Colonel Eaton, general superintendent of freed men.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Jason B. McPherson, Major General

Headquarters, Department and Army of the Tennessee,
Huntsville, Alabama, April 19, 1864
Major General H. W. Slocum,
Commanding District of Vicksburg, Vicksburg, Mississippi


In pursuance of orders from Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant, you will immediately make up as large a force as you can from the troops at and in the vicinity of Vicksburg, leaving a sufficient garrison for the place to make it secure against any contingency.

With this force you will operate up the Yazoo River, and push out from Yazoo City to threaten Grenada, in order to prevent any more of Lee’s cavalry from being sent to North Mississippi and Tennessee. Strike at the enemy wherever you can, so as to keep him occupied and engage his attention in that quarter.

Frequent demonstrations should be made in the direction of Clinton and Raymond, and the commanding officer at Natchez should be instructed to operate inland from Natchez on both sides of the river very often.

The line of the Big Black from its mouth up to Birdsong’s Ferry and thence across to Haynes’ Bluff should be held, and the latter point especially, which gives us control of the Yazoo River, should not he given up except in an emergency. Consult with the officers in command of the gun-boats up the Yazoo River, who will co-operate with you.

It is not expected that you will with your present force occupy Yazoo City or any point in the interior permanently, but make expeditions to them, when it can he done advantageously.

Vicksburg and Natchez must be held at all hazards, and the enemy prevented from obtaining a lodgment on the river to prevent the passage of boats.

The Government having adopted the policy of leasing out the abandoned plantations and giving employment to the freedmen. you will of course extend to them such protection as you can; but you will have to look at the matter from a military point of view and keep your force well in hand for defensive as well as offensive purposes; the holding of Vicksburg and Natchez and keeping the navigation of the river unobstructed being paramount to every other consideration. The plan of establishing small isolated posts along the river is bad, and should not be carried out to any extent.

A few posts well located, with strong defensive works to enable the garrison to hold out against a greatly superior force until re-enforcements can be sent them, with active scouting parties and patrols, is all that can be done by the land forces, and the gunboats and Marine Brigade must do the balance by patrolling the river.

When your force is increased by the return of veteran regiments and recruits so that the circumstances of the case will warrant it, a post at Yazoo City will most effectually cover the country between the Yazoo River and the Mississippi. The force sent up then must be strong and amply sufficient to take care of itself. Of this you must be the judge.

We have now held Vicksburg ten months, and there are many people in the city doing business under the protection of the military authorities. It is but right and proper that they should be ready and willing to assist in defending their property in case of emergency. To this end you will cause all the men capable of bearing arms to be enrolled and organized into home guard companies. To these companies, when organized, you can direct the issue of arms, accouterments, caps, and blouses, in order to give them a uniform appearance, and they should be required to drill at least twice a week. Select a building or buildings conveniently located for armories and drill-rooms for them, and notify all concerned that unless they enter into this matter promptly and willingly they will be required to close their business and leave the district.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Jason B. McPherson, Major General

I had Sawyer issue General Orders No. 8 directing no supplies be given to civilians.

General Orders, No. 8. Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi
Nashville, Tennessee April 19, 1864

I. Provisions will no longer be issued to citizens at military posts
south of Nashville. When citizens cannot procure provisions in the
country there is no alternative but they must remove to the rear.

II. Provisions must not be sold to any persons save officers in the
service of the United States, and the hired men employed by the
quartermaster’s or other departments of the Government, at a rate
not to exceed one ration per day. Commanding; officers will give their
personal attention to this matter, as it is of vital importance. It is
idle for us to be pushing forward subsistence stores if they are lavished and expended on any persons except they belong to the army proper.

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

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