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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 24, Part 1 (Vicksburg)
Page 163 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

advance of General McClernand's; that the general-in-chief, by personal inspection, knows this truth; that tens of thousands of living witnesses beheld and participated in the attack; that General Grant visited me during both assaults and saw for himself, and is far better qualified to judge whether his orders were obeyed than General McClernand, who was nearly 3 miles off; that General McClernand never saw my lines; that he then knew, and still knows, nothing about them, and that from his position he had no means of knowing what occurred on this front. Not only were the assaults made at the time and place and in the manner prescribed in General Grant's written orders, but about 3 p. m., five hours after the assault on the 22nd began, when my storming party lay against the exterior slope of the bastion on my front, and Blair's whole DIVISION was deployed close up to the parapet, ready to spring to the assault, and all my field artillery were in good position for the work, General Grant showed me a note from General McClernand, that moment handed him by an orderly, to the effect that he had carried three of the enemy's forts, and that the flag of the Union waved over the stronghold of Vicksburg, asking that the enemy should be pressed at all points lest he should concentrate on him. Not dreaming that a major-general would at such a critical moment make a mere buncombe communication, I instantly ordered Giles A. Smith's and Mower's brigades to renew the assault under cover of Blair's DIVISION and the artillery, deployed as before described, and sent an aide to General Steele, about a mile to my right, to convey the same mischievous message, whereby we lost, needlessly, many of our best officers and men.

I would never have revealed so unwelcome a truth had General McClernand, in his process of self-flattery, confined himself to facts in the reach of his own observation, and not gone out of the way to charge others for results which he seems not to comprehend. In cases of repulse and failure, congratulatory addresses by subordinate commanders are not common, and are only resorted to by weak and vain men to shift the burden of responsibility from their own to the shoulders of others. I never make a practice of speaking or writing of others, but during our assault of the 19th several of my brigade commanders were under the impression that McClernand's corps did not even attempt an assault.

In the congratulatory order I remark great silence on the subject. Merely to satisfy inquiring parties, I should like to know if McClernand's corps did or did not assault at 2 p. m. of May 19, as ordered. I do not believe it did, and I think General McClernand responsible.

With these remarks I leave the matter where it properly belongs, in the hands of the commanding general, who knows his plans and orders, sees with an eye single to success and his country's honor, and not from the narrow and contracted circle of a subordinate commander, who exaggerates the importance of the events that fall under his immediate notice, and is filled with an itching desire for " fame not earned. "

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure Number 5.]

HDQRS. 17TH ARMY CORPS, DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE, near Vicksburg, MISS, June 18, 1863.

Major-General GRANT,

Comdg. Dept. of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: My attention has just been called to an order published in the Missouri Democrat of the 10th instant, purporting to be a congratulatory order from Major General John A. McClernand to his command


Page 163 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 24, Part 1 (Vicksburg)
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