at your suggestion a move on Grenada, and sent General Washburn with careful instructions as to how it should be executed if you sent me permission; also writing General Hovey. This was about the 8th of November, and I informed you, asking if the blow should be struck. You did not respond, and so the matter rested. General Hovey got up an expedition on the Arkansas Post, but fearing he might get the forces out of reach I wrote him on the 11th November:*
In view of operations more immediately under the directions of the General-in-Chief I deem it inconsistent therewith to encourage the carrying out of your idea at this time.
But being assured that the matter would only occupy three or four days I did not fear its interference with a down move to which I referred. After such assurance of my desire to defer all matters to your orders I was surprised to see General Steele's letter of the 27th informing me that the Grenada matter had been undertaken. It was too late to countermand it, and the request of General Grant through General Sherman seemed to excuse it, as General Grant had over a month ago come to confer with me on such a move, which he said you and he were maturing. However this may be, the final move, although on my plan, was without my knowledge or consent. If my plan is adhered to the expedition should have returned to the river before this time, and I trust will not delay me in bringing my troops up to time in any move you may order.
I cannot imagine how you should suppose I try to evade a concentration of force to serve in the down-river column. I fully concurred with you and the President in the primary importance of this last fall. As soon as I cam to Helena in July I came with Commodore Davis to Cairo and explained the necessity of taking complete possession of the Mississippi as a preliminary to taking Little Rock, as gunboats could go up the Arkansas and White Rivers and intercept my trains. My State and the whole West are deeply interested in opening the river, and I have deplored every diversion of troops away and rejoiced at every effort to concentrate on the Mississippi. I certainly do not know myself, or I have an awful way of misrepresenting myself to you, if I have induced you to suppose I am not devoted to the work of opening the Mississippi. I took and held the advance post on that line, and, in conjunction with the navy, made excursions far below Helena, destroying a battery in the Yazoo and the railroad leading west from vicksburg, and I now send promptly every man I can spare, and as fast as I can organize and arm them, to join your downward movement. I am determined, general, to deserve the favorable consideration of my commanding general and my country, if my judgment and strength do not fail me. It has been more a source of trouble to me than to you that for some time General Steele has felt himself almost independent of my command. But I do not name this to reproach him for this last act of allowing the move on Grenada (he did not go himself), which I think was done in good faith, and I hope may result in no evil. I have thus demonstrated to you my entire innocence in regard to the Grenada move at this time, and i trust explained the circumstances which made others suppose they were doing right in attacking that place; and I respectfully ask you to withdraw the imitation of an "evasion" of your orders charged in you telegram of to-day.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
SAML. R. CURTIS,
*See Series I, Vol. XIII, p. 788.