Lot 39: Civil War–dated ALS signed "U. S. Grant, Maj. Gen.," three pages on two adjoining sheets, 5 x 8, March 14, 1863. Letter to Major General James McPherson. In part: "I send a steamer for the purpose of bulkheading two or more steamers to be used as same in case of necessity. Do not move up the river with the remainder of your forces until you receive further notice from me. Admiral Porter has made a reconnaissance which has demonstrated the practicability of getting all the small class of gunboats & rams through Steeles Bayou and across bayou to the Yazoo river above the raft. This if so will enable me to land my forces on Johnsons Plantation and fully organize them whilst holding a footing in the Yazoo river and keep my forces together. Gunboats will also be enabled to run up the river and meet Quinby coming down and convey him directly to the balance of your Army Corps. Instruct Quinby to move down with great caution but as if no force was to be expected but what is already in his own Division and Smiths from Memphis. Keep this move an entire secret as it is not suspected by the enemy and there is no telling how they are sometimes enabled to get information." In fine condition, with a few stray ink marks.This letter comes from a decisive moment in Grant's Bayou Operations during the Vicksburg Campaign, during which he attempted to construct and use alternative waterways to position troops within striking distance of Vicksburg. Grant touches upon two of the main maneuvers of these operations: the simultaneous Yazoo Pass Expedition and Steele's Bayou Expedition. Watson Smith of the US Navy was leading ironclads down the Yazoo River to bypass the Vicksburg defenses and attack Fort Pemberton; meanwhile, Admiral David D. Porter's naval flotilla moved into Steele's Bayou on the day of this letter. Smith's forces moving down the Yazoo were repulsed three times between March 11 and 16, when Smith was forced to retire from his command due to poor health and his replacements decided to withdraw. Isaac F. Quinby's reinforcements soon arrived and he convinced them to attack once more, only to fail yet again. Porter's flotilla on Steele's Bayou met a similar fate, becoming stuck in a creek on the second leg of the planned route and requiring rescue from the rebels by Sherman's ground forces. A fascinating letter revealing Grant's strategies in his early attempts to besiege Vicksburg.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 466
Wednesday, 9th December 2015
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