War of the Rebellion: Serial 038 Page 0228 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

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during the day near Grand Gulf, and had found that the enemy had built extensive works there, which were occupied by guns, and that if left to himself he would make the place impregnable. He added other was out of range, and could not be attacked without bringing on a general engagement, for which he (the admiral) was not prepared. He further advised me that he would attack the forts in the morning, and requested that I should send a land force to hold them in case he should succeed in accomplishing their reduction; closing by saying that it was a case in which dispatch and a dash were important, and might save everything. Although not prepared to make a sustained movement against the place, and inadequately supplied with ammunition, I sent an order to General Osterhaus, 6 miles in advance, to embark his DIVISION, with all the artillery and ammunition he could make available, on such boats as he could find, and hold himself in readiness to follow the gunboats, and to co-operate in attacking the enemy's position at the Gulf, and to hold it. Many obstacles remained to encounter; collection of boats, which were deficient in number; difficulty in communicating with officers across the flooded bayous and swamps, and muddy roads, yet by 11 a. m. on the 23rd the general had embarked his DIVISION, including two batteries, and was awaiting the movement of the gunboats. At 12 o'clock, Admiral Porter (whom I called on) advised me that he had just returned from the Gulf, and that he had found the situation there different; that he had discovered two more forts; in all four, and a land force estimated at 12,000, and that he had concluded to delay the attack upon the place, at all events until he could confer with me. Only having some 3,000 men embarked and immediately available for the movement, I determined at once to make a reconnaissance of the Gulf, and accordingly asked the use ram Price, which was furnished me by the admiral for the purpose.

In an hour and a half I was within some 2 miles of the enemy's position, a rough sketch of which I exhibited to you last night. The Price threw two shots, one of which struck the foot of the bluff, near the enemy. I saw no great activity of any kind displayed by the enemy, nor did I see my formidable display of batteries or forts. Indeed, it was questionable in my mind whether the enemy had any intrenchments; yet others asserted that they had seen both rifle-pits and earth-works for the protection of infantry and artillery, and it may be so. I am satisfied, however, that there are no extensive or very strong works, although the position in itself is one of the strongest I ever saw. Upon my return, I met with Admiral Porter, and told him that I could see no activity on the part of the enemy, and that I thought it important that the gunboats should so annoy him as to prevent him from intrenching. I cannot too strongly urge that it be done now. The enemy should be at once driven away from the crest and river slope of the bluffs, and I believe the gunboats cane easily do it.

When I have concentrated my corps, and have it in readiness for embarkation upon such transport as can be furnished, and a footing has been secured for me by the gunboats, I will take the place against any force now there; probably against any likely to be there.

With the increased facilities promised in the boats which ran the blockade the other night, and those understood to be coming, I will soon have my corps on the Mississippi levee, only 15 miles from the Gulf.

Your obedient servant,

JOHN A. McClernand.