HDQRS. SECOND ARMY CORPS, ON BOARD FOREST QUEEN,
Milliken's Bend, La., January 4, 1863.
SIR: Since I had the honor to make my official report of the operations of the forces against Vicksburg, under date of the 3rd instant, a change you notice, lest the change should not reach you trough other channels.
On the 2nd and 3rd instant in rained in torrents, and the alluvion at Milliken's Bend, as everywhere in this region, became like quagmire. It occurred to me, if we disembarked our command, we would be literally mud-bound and could be of little or no service.
The river about is surely interrupted somewhere, for boats (gunboats) due for several days are not yet come, and we know that the boat Blue Wing, towing two coal-barges for the navy, was captured by the enemy near the mouth of the Arkansas and carried up that river. The Blue Wing is known to have had on board a nail, which thus has fallen into hostile hands.
As long as we are unable with present forces to remove the obstructions at Vicksburg this force on shore do little good at this time, whereas it might in a few days assured the Arkansas, whose waters now admit of navigation, and reduce the Posts of Arkansas, a fortified camp of the enemy, 50 miles up, from which he at all times threatens the river. I suggested the idea General McClernand (who thought it within the scope of his power), and we proceeded in company to the mount of the Yazoo and had a conference with Admiral Porter, who agreed to co-operate. We are now en route for Montgomery Point, the mouth of White River, where there is a cut-off to the Arkansas. Our whole land force will be used, and some four iron-clads and several wooden gunboats.
With this force we should make short work; at all events, if we cannot take by storm these field works, made to oppose the navigation of the rivers in the South, the sooner we know it the better. I hope in this case better success will attend out efforts than at Vicksburg.
General McClernand has this day assumed the general command of the forces, under the title of the Army of the Mississippi, diving the army into two corps-the first of which to be commanded by General George W. Morgan and the other by myself. of course I shall give him as cordial a support as possible, and shall not covet any honor of fame be may gather in this magnificent fields of operations.
I have not heard a word you since I left Oxford, and cannot undertake to describe with what painful suspense I listened for the sound of your guns in the distance while we lay in the swamp of the Yazoo. Observing the heavy re-enforcements pouring into Vicksburg, and not hearing from you to fall back to Holly Springs.
General McClernand being now charged with fashioning and planning events I can subside quietly into the more agreeable office of a corps commander, and shall endeavor to make it a good one. I miss Morgan L. Smith very much, and need Grierson for cavalry.
W. T. SHERMAN,
Colonel JOHN a. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General to General Grant.