precluding the possibility to land a force on the east bank of the Mississippi anywhere above Vicksburg, has induced the hope that you would be able to take Port Hudson and move up to Black River. By the use of your transports, I could send you all the force you would require.
Finding the canal commenced here last summer by General [Thomas] Williams, I have prosecuted that work, and would before this have had it completed to feet but for the heavy rise in
the river breaking in the dam across the upper end. It is exceedingly doubtful if this canal can be made of any practical use, even if completed. The enemy have established a battery of heavy guns opposite the mouth of the canal, completely commanding it for one-half its length.
Soon after taking command here, I conceived the idea of getting possession of the Yazoo River by the way of Moon Lake and Yazoo Pass. Five gunboats were furnished for this expedition, and I sent in addition a DIVISION of troops, to which has since been added considerable re-enforcements. This enterprise promised most fairly, but for some cause our troops delayed so as to give the enemy time do fortify.
My last information from this command was to the 17th. They were at Greenwood, on the Yazoo, a fortified place, and had abandoned all idea of getting past until they could receive additional ordnance stores. By a prompt movement Yazoo City could have been captured without opposition.
Admiral Porter, with five gunboats, and Major-General Sherman, with a DIVISION of troops, are now attempting to get into the Yazoo by the way of Steele's Bayou, Black Bayou, Deer Creek, Rolling Fork, and the Sunflower. They got in as far as Deer Creek without any great difficulty, but I fear a failure of getting farther.
This experiment failing, there is nothing left for me but to collect all my strength and attack Haynes' Bluff. This will necessarily be attended with much loss, but I think it can be done.
The best aid you can give me, if you cannot pass Port Hudson, will be to hold as many of the enemy there as possible. If they could be sent, I could well spare you one army corps, to enable you to get up the river. My effective force, including all arms, will be between 60,000 and 70,000, if I bring all from Memphis that can be spared in an emergency.
An attack on Haynes' Bluff cannot possibly take place under two weeks, if so soon. My forces are now scattered, and the difficulty of getting transportation is very great.
U. S. GRANT.
BEFORE Vicksburg, March 22, 1863.
Admiral D. G. FARRAGUT, Comdg. Gulf Squadron:
I regret that Admiral Porter has not been here to answer your communications. On the subject of your communication in regard to furnishing coal, it can always be supplied either by the admiral or myself, supposing that it can be successfully floated past the batteries at Vicksburg.
It is a matter of the utmost importance to cut off trade with the Red River country. I do not know what Admiral Porter would suggest if he was here, but I think he might possibly spare one or more of his rams. I have not heard whether the barge of coal started to you last night reached its destination or not. Hoping that the coal reached you all right, I am, &c.,
U. S. GRANT.