diate pressing importance could be done. It seems to me that Mobile is the point deserving the most immediate attention. It could not be taken from here at this season of the year. The country through which an army would have to pass is poor and water scarce. The only present route, it seems to me, would be from some point in Lake Ponchartrain. I have not studied this matter, however, it being out of my department.
Either Sherman or McPherson would be good men to intrust such an expedition to. Between the two, I would have no choice, and the army does not afford an officer superior to either, in my estimation. With such men commanding corps or armies, there will never be any jealousies or lack of hearty co-operation. I have taken great pleasure in recommending both these officers for promotion in the regular service.
Immediately on taking possession of Vicksburg, I directed Captain Comstock, chief engineer, to lay out a line of works suitable for a garrison of 5,000 men. The work will necessarily progress slowly, for I do not want the white men to do any work that can be possibly avoided during the hot months. I also authorized the raising of a regiment of twelve companies of 150 men each, to be used as artillerists, and also to be drilled as infantry to garrison the place. I selected one of the colored regiments that had been officered by General Thomas for this purpose. The regiment selected had but few men in it at the time. It is now filled to nearly a complete infantry regiment.
Should my course not be sustained, all the surplus men can be transferred to other organizations. The negro troops are easier to preserve discipline among than our white troops, and I doubt not will prove equally good for garrison duty. All that have been tried have fought bravely.
Before raising any new regiments of colored troops, I think it advisable to fill those already organized. General Herron's trip to Yazoo City gave us a great many recruits, and General Ransom's expedition to Natchez has given and will give several thousand. The absence of General Hawkins has been a great drawback to the perfect organization of the black troops. I have no one to fully take his place.
Should Schofield require more troops than are already sent him (I do not believe he will) to drive Price south of the Arkansas River, I will furnish them. Kirby Smith's forces now occupy Delhi, Monroe, and Harrisonville, besides points on the Red River. They are represented as being in a demoralized condition, requiring one-half to hold the other in service. I may, when my troops are a little rested, clear out the Harrisonville and Monroe forces, but I do not think this of sufficient importance to allow it to interfere with any movements east of the river. Sending a force to Natchez was a heavy blow to the enemy. At this point the troops WEST of the river cross their munitions of war, and cattle for the eastern army cross at the same place.
Ransom secured 5,000 head of Texas cattle, nearly 500,000 rounds of infantry ammunition, some artillery ammunition, many horses and mules, prisoners and small-arms. A part of the cattle were sent to Banks. He also called on me for 2,000 mules, which we are able to supply as fast as transportation can be provided.
The wounded and sick prisoners, of which there was about 5,000 who would not bear land transportation, I am sending to Mobile and Alexandria. Pemberton's army may be regarded as discharged the service, and we stand credited with about 31,000 of them paroled and 7,000 or 8,000 sent north since the 1st of April.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT.