To supply the means of moving my forces from Smith's to Carthage, and across the Mississippi to some point from which operations could be directed against Vicksburg, and also of affording them needed protection against river attack, I ventured earnestly to urge the pressing and transcendent importance of forwarding steam transports and gunboats from their moorings above Vicksburg below to Carthage.
Happily, on the 17th, my recommendation was responded to by the appearance of three transports and seven gunboats, and on the 22nd by three more transports, all of which had run the blockade. A number of barges, having started in tow of the transports, had been cut loose on the way, and were caught and brought to by parties from General Osterhaus' DIVISION, who went out in skiffs for that purpose. Nor should I omit to add that during the advance of my forces from Milliken's Bend they subsisted in large part upon the country through which they passed, and seized and sent back as a forfeiture to the United States a large quantity of cotton owned by the rebel Government. The increased facilities afforded by the transports and barges alluded to hastened the removal of the NINTH DIVISION from Smith's to Carthage. The Fourteenth DIVISION followed from Milliken's Bend to the same place; also the Tenth DIVISION rested near Smith's until a land route had been opened 10 miles from there to Perkins'. The Twelfth DIVISION, which only arrived at Milliken's Bend on the 14th, followed to Smith's, and was followed from there to Perkins' by the rest of the Tenth, a large part of the trains of the whole corps, and afterward by the SEVENTEENTH and Fifteenth Army Corps.
The last 5 miles of the route from Smith's to Perkins' was obstructed by numerous bayous. To accelerate the general movement, General Hovey undertook the experiment of overcoming these obstacles; but, in order to do so, he had to construct nearly 2,000 feet of bridging out of materials createdart, on the occasion. This he did within the short space of three days and nights, thus extending and completing the great military road across the peninsula from the Mississippi above to the Mississippi 40 miles below Vicksburg. The achievement is one of the most remarkable occurring in the annals of war, and justly ranks among the highest examples of military energy and perseverance.
On the 22nd, receiving a communication from Admiral Porter informing me that he would attack the enemy at Grand Gulf on the following morning, and requesting me to send an infantry force to occupy the place when he had silenced the enemy's guns, I directed General Osterhaus immediately to embark his DIVISION on all available boats and to co-operate with the gunboats in carrying into effect the purpose mentioned. In prompt execution of my order, General Osterhaus embarked his DIVISION during the night of the 22nd; but Admiral Porter informing me in the morning that further observation had convinced him that the enemy were in much stronger force than he at first supposed, and that more extensive preparations on the part of our land and naval forces were required than could be immediately made, the contemplated attack was postponed.
On the 23rd, accompanied by General Osterhaus, I made a personal reconnaissance of the enemy's works and position at Grand Gulf, on board the gunboat General Price, which had been kindly placed at my disposal for that purpose by Admiral Porter, and found them very strong
On the 24th, in obedience to my order, General Osterhaus sent a detachment