« AnteriorContinuar »
Gen. Sherman's Vicksburg Campaign—The Connection Op Gen. Mcclernand With It—Organization Op The Expedition—Mcclernand's Correspondence With The Secretary Op War—Letter Prom The President—'correspondence With Gen. Halleck And Gen. Grant—Gen. Mcclernand Assigned To A Corps After The Movement Op The Expedition—His Voyage Down The River—Assigned To ComMand The Forces—Letters For Gen. Grant—Gen. Sherman's Failure On The Chickasaw Bayou—Details Op The Three Days Battle—Death Op Gen. Wyman— Return Op The Forces—Gen. Mcclernand Assumes Command.
WE now come to the second co-operative demonstration against Vicksburg, the expedition of General Sherman. It is due to General McClernand to state that he had labored long and assiduously in organizing this expedition, and in fact had first suggested to the Secretary of War, in an elaborate letter, the extreme importance of reducing Vicksburg, and opening the Mississippi River to the Gulf. A long correspondence passed betwen General McClernand and the Department, the latter mainly adopting his suggestions and urging him to hasten the organization. A dispatch from the Secretary of War, sent on the 29th of October, indicated the importance of moving expeditiously, Bo as to co-operate with certain movements in the east, and closed as follows:
"You will apprise me of your wants, which will be promptly supplied as far as may be in the power of the Department. For your success, time and diligence, as you know, are important elements* Every confidence is reposed in your skill and seal, and I long to see you in the field, striking vigorous blows against the rebellion in its most vital point."
The President and Secretary of War coincided with all of Gen. McClernand's plans. They united in drafting a document ordering him to organize the troops remaining in Indiana, Iowa and Illinois, and forward them with all despatch to Memphis and Cairo, to the end that when a sufficient force not required by the operations of General Grant was assembled, an expedition should be organized under his command against Vicksburg. The forces thus organized however, were "subject to the designation of the General-in-Chief," and were to be employed "according to such exigences as the service in his judgment may require." This document was endorsed by the President as follows:
"This order, though marked confidential, may be shown by Gen. McClernand to Governors and even others, when, in his discretion, he believes so doing to be indispensable to the progress of the expedition. I add that I feel deep interest in the success of the expedition, and desire it to be pushed forward with all possible dispatch, consistently with the other parts of the military service."
It was evident that both the President and Secretary of War, in spite of the conditional clauses of this document, expected and intended that General MeClernand was to command the expedition, and the General himself so understood it, and acted accordingly. He supposed that he was to command it independently, subject only to the orders of the General in Chief, and with this impression upon Ids mind, at once visited the Governors of Indiana, Illinois and Iow^a, and obtained their hearty cooperation in organizing the troops. In the short space of sixteen days, with the assistance of the Adjutant-General of Illinois, he had completed the organization, mustered and forwarded from the various camps in Illinois, six regiments of infantry and one six gun battery to Columbus, Ky., and six more regiments and one six-gun battery to Memphis, besides five regiments from Indiana and three from Iowa. In addition to jhese, there was another regiment of infantry in Illinois under marching orders and three others in the same state were ready for muster, and two other regiments of infantry in Iowa. Certain influences were at work, however, which led General McClernand to believe that General Halleck was disposing of the troops in other directions, and that he was about to lose the command. He there
GENERAL M'CLERKAND. 437
fore wrote a strong letter to the Secretary of War, expressing the interest he felt in the enterprise, asking that his connection with it should be severed, and that he might be ordered to other duty in the field at once, if the expedition had become an uncertainty or must be long delayed.
In another communication to the Secretary of War, date! December 1, 1862, he stated that the work of forwarding troops from Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, for the Mississippi River expedition, had been nearly completed, and that a mustering, pay and ordnance officer for each of these states would amply suffice to close up the unfinished business in each of them. He requested therefore to be ordered forward to Memphis, or such other rendezvous as the Secretary should think preferable, that he might organize, drill and discipline his command preparatory to an early and successful movement. On the 12th of December he wrote in a similar strain to the President, and on the 16th to General Halleck, concluding his letter as follows:
"Having substantially accomplished the purpose of the order sending me to the states of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, by forwarding upwards of 40,000 troops, as was particularly explained in my letter of the 1st inst. to the Secretary of War, and referred by him to you, I beg to be sent forward in accordance with the order of the Secretary of War, on the 21st of October, giving me command of the Mississippi expedition."
Subsequently General McClernand learned that General Sherman had left for Vicksburg in command of the expedition, and at once inquired of the Secretary of War if he had been superseded, and requested to be informed "if it is and shall be so." In answer to this, a dispatch from General Halleck's Assistant Adjutant-General was received on December 22d, informing General McClernand that on the 18th, the following telegram had been transmitted to General Grant, then at Oxford, Miss.:
"The troops in your department, including those from General Curtis's command which join the down river expedition, will be divided into four Corps. It is the wish of the President that Gen. McClernand's Corps shall constitute a part of the river expedition, and that he shall have the immediate command under your directions."
General McClernand did not look upon this dispatch as relieving him from his position at Springfield, and therefore requested of the Secretary of War to order him forward. Mr. Stanton at once relieved him and ordered him to report to General Grant for the purpose specified in the order of the General-in-Chief. This correspondence detained him until the 25th of December, when he left with his staff for Cairo. As reports were rife that the rebels had again obstructed the navigation of the river, he took with him a small company of infantry and left Cairo for the south on the 26th. Upon reaching Memphis, General Hurlbut informed him that Gen. Sherman had left Helena, and that General Grant had fallen back to Holly Springs. Two of his staff officers were immediately despatched across the country to communicate with General Grant. They reached there that night and were informed that orders assigning General McClernand to the immediate command of the expedition had been forwarded on the same day to Memphis by the train sent there under General Quimby. General Grant also remarked that information from rebel sources had been received by General McPherson, stating that Sherman had already attacked and captured Vicksburg.
These orders were received by General McClernand on the 29th, and consisted of two letters, one dated December 18, 1862, informing him of his appointment to the command of an army corps in General Grant's department, giving him command of the Mississippi River expedition, and ordering that the written instructions given General Sherman shall be turned over to McClernand on his arrival at Memphis.
The other letter was dated Holly Springs, December 25th, and was directed to "the commanding officer of the expedition down the river," giving sundry details concerning his own position and some instructions in relation to future plans. Gen. Grant also forwarded the following respecting the delay in sending the letter of the 18th:
"This letter was written the same morning the dispatch from the General-in-Chief was received, and immediately mailed, but when the cars got as far as Jackson, they found they could proceed no further. Since that time there has been no communication with the north prior to the day of Gen. Mcdemand's arrival."