CAIRO, ILL., February 8, 1863.
Honorable GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary of the Navy:
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that on the 1st instant I ordered Colonel Charles Ellet, in the ram Queen of the West, Captain Sutherland commander, to run the batteries at Vicksburg, and destroy the steamer City of Vicksburg, lying before the city. She ran the batteries under a heavy fire of FIFTY guns, and struck the steamer, leaving her on fire and in a sinking condition. The fire was put out, and the steam-pumps still keep the steamer afloat. The Queen of the WEST is off down the river, with ordered to capture and destroy all vessels she meets with. This cuts off all the enemy's means of supplies of Port Hudson and Vicksburg by the way of Red River, and cuts off all communication up the Big Black. I will re-enforce the Queen of the WEST as soon as an opportunity offers.
DAVID D. PORTER.
BEFORE Vicksburg, February 8, 1863.
Brigadier General WILLIS A. GORMAN,
Comdg. District of Eastern Arkansas:
I send by the steamer that takes this, 600 men, intended to accompany a fleet of gunboats down the Yazoo River, if found practicable. The steamer goes to Helena after a barge of coal for this fleet. If the navy have any coal at Helena, take that; if not, send a barge belonging to the quartermaster's department. Admiral Porter has called my attention to the fact that army transports have been in the habit of taking coal belonging to the Navy Department. This should not be allowed, except in case of great emergency, and then any coal taken should be returned as soon as possible.
The two branches of service are supplied out of different appropriations; hence the necessity of being particular in this matter. As it is of the utmost importance that this expedition should get off, and cannot do it without the coal, if there is none on hand send a steamer forthwith to Memphis after some, with directions to return as soon as possible. Should a steamer be sent up, if they meet a tow coming down with coal, let them take one of their barges and return immediately.
If it should be necessary to send the steamer that has the troops aboard, let them debark at Helena and await her return. Some other steamer should be sent, however, if practicable.
U. S. GRANT.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE, Number 39. Young's Point, La., February 8, 1863.
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IV. Brigadier General B. M. Prentiss is hereby assigned to the command of the District of Eastern Arkansas, headquarters at Helena, Ark., to which place he will proceed without delay.
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XVI. The infantry and artillery forces of the Thirteenth Army Corps in the District of Eastern Arkansas will constitute the Twelfth and Thirteenth DIVISIONS of the Army of the Tennessee, and be organized as follows:
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*See Organization of the Army of the Tennessee, p. 21.