I have selected two fine regiments in five boats to accompany him, and have ordered Ellet's Marine Brigade to protect the river in the district hitherto guarded by Captain Owen. I will make my letter to captain Owen very full, asking him to ascend the Yazoo as far as he deems possible, and acting in such a manner as to show the planters along the Yazzo and Sunflower that we can reach them and punish them in case they connive at the attacks on our boats in the Mississippi. I have this moment received a letter from General Banks indicating his purpose to engage in the Red River expedition in concert with General Steele and myself. My orders from General Grant are to strike Meridian, and he sends me a letter from General Halleck which shadows forth the joint execution of the movement on Shreveport. General Banks is sending an officer up to cairo to engage boats and supplies. He is taking time by the forelock, and I willing he should do so, but I know when the time comes I will be prepared as soon as any. You, must take the initiative, as the gun-boats must carry the heavy ordnance, and we should not engage Shreveport until you can out your gun-boats (iron-clad) into the fight. I can be back to Vicksburg by the end of February, by which time red River should be in good boating order. I have a man in from Alexandria, La., bringing me messages from my friends there, but he says when he left there eight days ago the falls were only passable to the lightest-draught boats. Dick Taylor is down at Fort De Russy, which is at one of the Marksville landings - doubtless Norman's, the same where the Oueen of the West was taken. Taylor has three brigades with him. This fort can be turned by Banks moving upon Alexandria from Opelousas. Steele should move on Shreveport from Little Rock, and you and I should go straight up Red river. Some one mind should control the whole. I inclose you a telegraphic message* for General Grant, which I beg you to send to him and send me his answer. March I should be fixed as the date for us to enter Red River.
Truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN,
[Inclosure Numbers 7.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Vicksburg, Miss., January 30, 1864.
Lieutenant Commander E. K. OWEN, U. S. Navy,
Commanding Fifth Division, Mississippi Squadron:
DEAR SIR: In furtherance of the expedition proposed up the Yazoo, I will endeavor to explain the objects and purposes aimed at:
You are aware that a large cavalry force will leave Memphis about Monday next, directing its course, via Ripley, Pontotoc, Okolona, and Columbus, to Meridian. I will leave Vicksburg about the same time with a strong force of infantry and artillery for the same point via Jackson and Brandon. I desire to confuse the enemy as to our plans, and know that the appearance of a force up the Yazoo as far as possible will tend to that result. I propose at the same time to have the expedition fulfill other important ends. I have ordered General McPherson to embark here on five good steam-boats the Eleventh Illinois Infantry (white) and Eighth Louisiana (black) to accompany your fleet. These will be commanded by an experienced
* See Part II, p. 270.