While Van Dorn and Forrest were raiding Union supply lines, William Sherman was beginning the very movement they were trying to stop. On October 19th Abraham Lincoln had appointed John McClernand to command a new army to attempt to take Vicksburg. This worried Grant, who planned for the capture of that Confederate stronghold to be his next mission. Spurred to action by this threat to his command, he moved quickly, and ordered his trusted subordinate William Sherman to move down the Mississippi River to Vicksburg while Grant converged with him, marching overland.
|US transport on the Mississippi|
It was 150 years ago today that Sherman boarded a transport in Memphis, Tennesse and set out down river, beginning this new campaign. That say he wrote to his brother, Senator John Sherman, saying:
I embarked to-day on the Forest Queen and will have 20,000 men in boats by noon and be off for the real South. At Helena I will get about 12,000 more. Like most of our boasts of the “Myriads of the northwest sweeping away to the Gulf,” “breaking the back bone,” &c. &c., the great Mississippi expedition will be 32,000 men. Vicksburg is well fortified and is within telegraphic and railroad reach of Meridian, Mobile, Camp Moore and Grenada, where Pemberton has 30,000 to 35,000 men. Therefore don't expect me to achieve miracles. Vicksburg is not the only thing to be done. Grant is at Coffeeville! (?) with say 40,000 men. He expected me to have the same but they are not here. We can get the Yazoo, can front in any and every direction and can take Vicksburg, clean out the Yazoo, capture or destroy the fleet of enemy's gunboats and transports concealed up about Yazoo city — and do many other useful things. Blair is down at Helena and will doubtless form a part of the expedition. He will have a chance of catching the Elephant by the tail and get a good lift.
Of course the pressure of this force acting in concert with Grant must produce good results. Even if we don't open the Mississippi, by the way an event not so important as at first sight, until the great armies of the enemy are defeated — we are progressing. I wish Burnside and Rosecrans were getting along faster, but I suppose they encounter the same troubles we all do. . . .
I rise at 3 A.M. to finish up necessary business and as usual write in haste. . . . I am very popular with the people here and officers and indeed with all my men. I don’t seek popularity with the “sneaks and absentees” or the “Dear People.” . . .
W. T. SHERMAN.