light. I am ordered to take Steele's and Tuttle's DIVISIONS down by land 20 miles, and cross over at Grand Gulf. I hope to get across by the day after to-morrow. I found one of McArthur's brigade at Holmes' plantation, and another at Smith's. I think it is Grant's purpose to leave one DIVISION of McPherson's at this end of the road, and yours at that end.
I am satisfied that the danger of moving the batteries is too great, and this road too long, and therefore I want you to put as large a force as possible in making a road cross to Biggs', and to reconnoiter the ground around the crevasse to a good landing below Warrenton. If satisfied it is feasible, widen the old road, and cause worst part to be bridged, using any material at the Bend. As soon as I see Grant, I will give more specific orders. I feel satisfied now, from the low water in the bayous here, that the swamp at Biggs' is dray, except a small place where the canal water passes. I would prefer that the batteries at Warrenton should be attacked, but this road must be shortened, else this army will be without food in two days. I am ordered to cross over 175 wagons with me, and send an order to Smith with this to hurry back to me the wagons of my own corps.
I am, with great respect, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN.
IN THE FIELD ON BIG BLACK, MISS., Number 77.
May 4, 1863.
Brigadier General M. M. Crocker, commanding Seventh DIVISION, will detail from his command two regiments of infantry, as a party of observation. One regiment will move up the river to the right, the other down the river to the left. The main body will advance under cover of the hills to avoid observation, while flankers will proceed cautiously, exploring every blind road, bridle-path, or crossing, with a view to discover what works, if any, the enemy may have erected on the banks of the river and what fordable places or ferries may be, the officer in command keeping a running sketch of the route passed over.
The commanding officers of the regiment will be selected for their skill in reconnoitering.
* * * * *
By order of Major-General McPherson:
WM. T. CLARK,
HANKINSON'S FERRY, MISS., May 5, 1863.
Captain E. K. OWEN, U. S. Navy:
Place the flag-ship (yours) in the mouth of Big Black River, to watch any movement of the enemy in that direction. Leave Captain Murphy's vessel in front of Grand Gulf, to guard the stores, and to convey any steamer that may require it. This will enable Captain Murphy to carry out Admiral Porter's wish to have a survey made of Grand Gulf and surroundings. Send the remaining iron-clads to the vicinity of Warrenton, to watch the movements of the enemy there, and to prevent them from sending troop across the river, to interrupt our lines from Milliken's Bend and Young's Point.
U. S. GRANT.