his DIVISION ar Fort Pemberton, on March 21, and, being the senior, assumed command of the entire expedition, and returned to the position Ross had occupied.
On March 23, I sent orders for the withdrawal of all the forces operating in that direction, for the purpose of concentrating my army at Milliken's Bend.
On March 14, Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding the Mississippi Squadron, informed me that he had made a reconnaissance up Steel's Bayou, and partially through Black Bayou toward Deer Creek, and, so far as explored, these water courses were reported navigable for the smaller iron-clads.
Information, given mostly, I believe, by the negroes of the country, was to the effect that Deer Creek could be navigated to Rolling Fork, and that from there through the Sunflower to the Yazoo River there was no question about the navigation.
On the following morning I accompanied Admiral Porter in the ram Price, several iron-clads preceding us, up through Steel's Bayou to near Black Bayou.
At this time our forces were at a dead lock at Greenwood, and I looked upon the success of this enterprise as of vast importance. It would, if successful, leave Greenwood between two forces of ours, and would necessarily cause the immediate abandonment of that stronghold. About thirty steamers of the enemy would have been destroyed or fallen into our hands.
Seeing that the great obstacles to navigation, so far as I had gone, was from overhanging trees, I left Admiral Porter near Black Bayou, and pushed back to Young's Point, for the purpose of sending forward a pioneer corps to remove these difficulties. Soon after my return to Young's Point, Admiral Porter sent back to me for a co-operating military force. Sherman was promptly sent with one DIVISION of his corps. The number of steamers suitable for the navigation of these bayous being limited, most of the force was sent up the Mississippi River to Eagle Bend, a point where the river runs within 1 mile of Steele's Bayou, thus saving an important part of this difficult navigation.
The expedition failed, probably more from want of knowledge as to what would be required to open this route than from any impracticability in the navigation of the streams and bayous through which it was proposed to pass. Want of this knowledge led the expedition on until difficulties were encountered, and then it would become necessary to send back to Young's Point for the means of removing them. This gave the enemy time to move forces to effectually checkmate further progress, and the expedition was withdrawn when within a few hundred yards of free and open navigation to the Yazoo.
All this may have been providential in driving us ultimately to a line of operations which has proven eminently successful.
For further particulars of the Steele's Bayou expedition, see report of Major General W. T. Sherman, forwarded on April 12.
As soon as I decided to open water communication from a point on the Mississippi, near Milliken's Bend, to New Carthage, I determined to occupy the latter place, it being the first point below Vicksburg that could be reached by land at the stage of water then existing, and the occupancy of which, while it secured to us a point on the Mississippi River, would also protect the main line of communication by water. Accordingly, the Thirteenth Army Corps, Major General J. A. McClernand commanding, was directed to take up its line of march on March 29 for New Carthage, the Fifteenth and SEVENTEENTH Army Corps to follow,