to take the hand of oppression of citizen soldiers whose zeal for their country has prompted them to take up arms, or all will be lost .
Do not let me be clandestinely destroyed, or, what is worse, dishonored, without a hearing. The very moment you think I am an impediment to the public service, upon the slightest intimation of it my resignation will be forwarded. Until then you may count upon my best endeavors, at whatever peril, to sustain the sacred cause for which we are contending.
In addition to the reasons set forth in the copy of the dispatch inclosed for the Arkansas River expedition I might assign the order of the Secretary of War, indorsed by you, to open the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi River being the only channel of communication, and that being infested with guerrillas, how can General Grant, at a distance of 400 miles intelligently command the army with me? He cannot do it. It should be made an independent command, as both you and the Secretary of War, as I believe, originally intended.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. McCLERNAND.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Post Arkansas, January 16, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: Your dispatch of the 16th [13th] instant came to hand at 6 o'clock p. m. this day, and I hasten at the same moment to answer it.
I take the responsibility of the expedition against Post Arkansas, and had anticipated your approval of the complete and signal success which crowned it rather than your condemnation.
In saying that I could not have effected the reduction of Vicksburg with the limited force under my command, after its repulse near that place under General Sherman, I only repeat what was contained in a previous dispatch to you. From the moment fell back from Oxford, and the purpose of a front attack upon the enemy's works near Vicksburg was thus deprived of co-operation, the Mississippi River Expedition was doomed eventuate in a failure.
I had heard nothing of General Banks when I left Milliken's Bend on the 4th instant, and if, as you say, Port Hudson has been made "very strong," it will be some time before he will be in a situation to receive the co-operation of the Mississippi River Expedition, unless he should prove more successful than the latter.
Had I remained idle and inactive at Milliken's Bend with the army under my command until now I should have felt myself guilty of a great crime. Rather had I accept the consequences of the imputed guilt of using it profitably and successful upon my own responsibility.
The officer who, in the present strait of the country will not assume a proper responsibility to save, it is unworthy of public trust.
Having successfully accomplished the object of this expedition I will return to Milliken's Bend, according to my intention communicated to you in a previous dispatch, unless otherwise order by you.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN. A. McCLERNAND,