Our canal here don't amount to much. It is full of water, but manifests no disposition to change the channel. It is a very small affair, and we can hardly work a barge through it for stumps. Even if it succeeds, Warrenton Bluff lies below, next Grand Gulf, next Rodney, and so on; Fort Adams, Port Hudson, &c. But Grand is on two other projects: to turn some of the waters of the Mississippi through Old Yazoo Pass into the Yazoo, above the forts at Haynes' Bluff, so that our gunboats may reach the Yazoo fleet above Yazoo City; and to turn the main river into Lake Providence, when its waters would follow the Tensas to Black River, then the Red and Atchafalaya, thus actually reaching the sea without approaching any bluff or ground easy of defense. This is a magnificent scheme, and, if successful, will be a grand achievement. A glance at the map will show it at least probable.
There are about 30,000 men in Vicksburg, a large part of the enemy having gone to Port Hudson, and some are working north, by Holly Springs and Grand Junction. This latter move is dangerous to us, but may be checked by the appearance of the gunboats in the Yazoo. We have McClernand, Prentiss, Steele, Blair, and many others here, but, aside from the canal-digging, we are idle. The war against us by the newspaper press has assumed large proportions, and I hope it proves profitable to them.
W. T. SHERMAN.
BEFORE Vicksburg, February 7, 1863.
Commanding Officer Yazoo Expedition:
You will proceed without delay to Helena, Ark., and there take in tow a barge of coal, applying to General Gorman for the same, and return to Delta, MISS., with it. At Delta you will remain until the arrival of four gunboats that have been designated by the admiral, when you will divide your force and send them aboard of the gunboats, the number on each to be determined by the Navy Department. As soon as the expedition proceeds, you will discharge the transport on which you ascend the river, and direct her to return the empty coal barge to Helena, and then return to this fleet herself. Full directions have been given the Navy Department for their guidance on this expedition. The infantry go to act as marines for the occasion. The troops will be under the immediate command of their own officers, but in no instance are they to exercise control over the vessel, or dictate when they are to go or what to do. The troops are designed to give protection to the vessels on which they are, and to operate on land if the necessity arises.
U. S. GRANT.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE, Number 38. Young's Point, La., February 7, 1863.
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VIII. Major General S. A. Hurlbut will, in addition to his command of the SIXTEENTH Army Corps, assume command of all the forces in the District of Memphis, Columbus, Jackson, and Corinth.
Major General C. S. Hamilton, on being relieved by Major-General Hurlbut, will report to the latter, in person, for orders.
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By order of Major General U. S. Grant:
JNO. A. RAWLINS,