HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Near Vicksburg, June 25, 1863.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Expedition:
GENERAL: Your note is just received. This morning a deserter, the hospital steward of the Sixth Texas Cavalry (a young man from Indiana, but who moved to Texas in 1858), came in. He reports as having come as far as Mechanicsburg between the two rivers, when their cavalry first arrived. Since that they have fallen back across Black River, and now his brigade, [J. W.] Whitfield commanding, are at Bolton. The enemy have no body of troops south of the railroad; Johnston has his headquarters between Brownsville and Canton, about 15 miles from Bolton. The deserter says he hears these men say that Johnston has 35,000 men. They estimate our forces at 90,000, but think Pemberton can detain most of them.
They are anxious to attack, to relieve the suspense. Colonel Blood captured a rebel courier coming out of Vicksburg last night. He had with him quite a number of private letters for the mail outside. The most important among them is one from M. L. Smith to his wife, and one from [W. T.] Withers. The former said their fate must be decided within the next ten days. If not relieved in that time, he expects to go North, but calculates on a speedy exchange, when he will be restored to the bosom of his family. A number of the letters speak of getting four ounces of bacon per day, and bread made of rice and flour mixed. Corn $40 per bushel, and not to be had at that. Strong faith is expressed by some in Johnston's coming to their relief. Withers, particularly, cannot believe they have been so wicked as for Providence to allow the loss of their stronghold of Vicksburg. Their principal faith seems to be in Providence and Joe Johnston.
Dana will probably go out this evening, and will carry you any news was may have up to that time. There is no truth in the rumor that Port Hudson has fallen. I believe a vessel has come up from Port Hudson, but nAdmiral Porter informs me that Banks has lost severely; that Kirby Smith has attempted to relieve the garrison from the opposite side of the river.
McPherson will spring two mines in his front this afternoon. He will try then to secure a place within the fort now in his front. The mines are run about 35 feet in, and will go up with a blast of 1,000 pounds of powder. I think it advisable to keep your troops out until Joe Johnston carries a design to move in some other direction. Continue to obstruct roads to confine his advance on as far and as narrow passes as possible. Should you discover a change of plan on his part, to counteract it.
U. S. GRANT.
NEAR Vicksburg, June 25, 1863.
Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN:
The only news of importance from Port Hudson: Garrison still holds out, and have nothing but parched corn to live on. Kirby Smith is trying to relieve them by attacking the point opposite. Banks had two repulses; lost heavily. Rebels have about 3,000 men in the fort-so say deserters.
The report that Port Hudson was in Banks' possession came from a dispatch from Herron, which was founded on misrepresentation. A de-