The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant
Dist. Of West Tenn.
Pittsburg, April 7, 1862
Major General D. C. Buell
Under the instructions I previously received and a dispatch
also today from General Halleck it will not do to advance beyond Pea Ridge.
U.S. Grant, major-general commanding
Pittsburg, April 8
Again another terrible battle has occurred in which our arms
have been victorious. For the number engaged and the tenacity with which both
parties held on for two days, during an incessant fire of musketry and
artillery, it has no equal on this continent.
Good night, dear Julia.
Pittsburg, April 9, 1862
Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck
St. Louis Mo.
There is no doubt but that the enemy intend concentrating on
the railroad at and near Corinth all the force possible. They have sent
steamers up White River (in Arkansas) to bring down Van Dorn's and Price's
U.S. Grant, maj. Gen.
Dist. Of West Tenn
Pittsburg, April 9, 1862
Adjutant General, Department of Mississippi
St. Louis Mo.
On Sunday morning our pickets were attacked and driven in by
the enemy. Immediately the five divisions stationed at this place were drawn up
in line of battle ready to meet them. The most continuous firing of musketry
and artillery ever heard on this continent was kept up until nightfall, the
enemy having forced the entire line to fall back nearly half way from their
camps to the Landing. At a late hour a desperate effort was made by the enemy
to turn our left and get possession of the Landing. There is a deep and
impassable ravine for artillery or cavalry and every difficult for infantry at
this point. Just at that point Nelson's division of Buell's army arrived. An
advance was made up upon the point of attack and the enemy was driven back.
U.S. Grant, Maj-Gen commanding
Pittsburg, April 15, 1862
I am now living in camp about half a mile from the river
preparing my army for the field. General Halleck is here in command of the
whole, Buell and myself commanding separate armies. I am looking for a speedy
move, one more fight and then easy sailing to the close of the war. I really
feel glad when this thing is over. The battle at this place was the most
desperate that has ever taken place on the continent and I don't look for
another like it.
Note: Halleck arrived at the
Landing on the evening of April 11. On the 14th he wrote his wife, "This
army is undisciplined and very much disorganized, the officers being incapable
of maintaining order. To Grant, Halleck wrote, "Your army is not now in
condition to resist an attack."
Pittsburg, April 25, 1862
I am no longer boss. General Halleck is here. I hope the
papers will let me alone in future. If the papers only knew how little ambition
I have outside of putting down this rebellion, and getting back once more to
live quietly and unobtrusively with my family.
Pittsburg, April 25, 1862
Dear Ihrie (a friend),
There will be another movement here before this reaches you
which I hope will wind up the big battles. The papers are giving me fits for
the last. This matter will be understood after awhile. It does not seem to be
taken into account that with a force less than 35,000 men we kept at bay all
day Sunday over 80,000. As to the surprise spoken of we could not have been
better prepared had the enemy sent word three days before when they would
attack. Skirmishing had been going on for that time and I could have
brought on the battle either Friday (the day he rode out into the forest) or
Saturday if I had chosen. My object was to keep it off, if possible,
until Buell arrived.
of old, U.S. Grant
Note: Here Grant reveals much
about his mind-set. He overstates by half the size of the force that attacked
him and he admits that he knew the Confederate main body was in his immediate
front as early as Friday, April 4th. It is true that he was under direct orders
from Halleck "not to bring on an engagement;" i.e., not to be the
aggressor. But Grant knew, not only from his West Point training but also from
Halleck's message, that Halleck expected him to erect fortifications in front
of his camps. He chose not to do this for a reason. He says the reason was to
avoid causing a panic among the raw recruits, but it seems more reasonable to
conclude the reason was he was intentionally inviting the Confederates to
attack his position, gambling that he could hold the west bank of the river until
Buell arrived, which is what happened.
Pittsburg, April 26, 1862
As to the talk about a surprise here, nothing could be more
false. If the enemy had sent us word when and where they would attack us, we
could not have been better prepared. Skirmishing had been going on for two days
between our reconnoitering parties and the enemy's advance. I
did not believe, however, that they intended to make a determined attack,
but simply that they were making a reconnaissance in force. I was also looking
for Buell to arrive.
Note: Again, Grant reveals his
true mind-set. He either arrogantly challenged the enemy to make their attack,
or he was gambling that Buell would arrive (doubling his numbers)
before the enemy could get up the courage to make a "determined attack."
Another more practical explanation, however, exists for Grant's conduct.
Despite his protests to the contrary, the objective evidence of his conduct
leads to the conclusion that Grant was indeed an ambitious man who had no
intention of disappearing into obscurity after the war.
First, having slipped into the
key slot for a brigadier general in Missouri (Thanks to Pope and Fremont), he
pushed Halleck to allow him, with the Navy's help, to go up the Tennessee River and attack Fort Henry. Halleck allowed this, but with the expectation that
Grant would stop there until further orders were received. But, once at Henry,
Grant immediately moved across the peninsula and invested Fort Donelson. Halleck reacted to this by shoving reinforcements as fast as possible up the Cumberland River. Relying on the fact that these reinforcements would give him overwhelming
power against the rebel garrison in the fort Grant left the front, leaving
orders for his division commanders to do nothing in his absence, and they got attacked
suddenly by Gideon Pillow and were driven back a mile. With the reinforcements
from Halleck, Grant counterattacked after a time and the garrison quickly
surrendered. This action made Grant the first major-general of
volunteers to be appointed in the West, making him automatically
second-in-command in the Department.
Second, being now
second-in-command and the man on the scene at the front, Grant naturally found
himself commander of the District of West Tennessee, in overall charge of the
operations that brought the build-up of Union troops at Pittsburg Landing,
though by Halleck's direct orders he was not in field command of the
forces that went up the river to camp at Pittsburg Landing. Brigadier-General
C.F. Smith, by Halleck's order, was placed in direct command of these troops
and their movements. Again, Grant seized upon the opportunity presented by the
fact that he was in the field and Halleck was not, induce a battle—in this
case, a great battle―that would be recognized as his battle.
So what do we now know about
Grant from these facts? He was ambitious. He grabbed the opportunity created by
his presence in the field to generate battles which made his name a household
word. He relied on avoiding disaster, not by West Point pofessionalism or skill
of generalship, but on the cold hard fact that the side with the most men will
win the battle in the end.
Finally, it is becoming clear
that Grant is not liked by Halleck nor by Lincoln's crowd in Washington, his
"board of advisers" made up of West Point professionals. The evidence
will show that these men intentionally put Grant on the sideline, leaving him
in what they considered for a time to be the least important sector of the
theater of war in the West.
in the field, near Pittsburg
April 30, 1862
I move from here tomorrow. Before this reaches you probably
another battle, and I think the last big one, will have taken place or be near
at hand. I mean the last in the Mississippi Valley. You need give yourself no
trouble about newspaper reports. I am very sorry to say a great deal of it
originates in jealousy. This is very far from applying however to our chief,
Halleck, who I look upon as one of the greatest men of the age.
You inquire how I was hurt? For several days before the
battle there was skirmishing going on with the enemy's advance. My object was
to keep the attack off until Buell arrived or I would have gone out and met the
enemy on Friday before they could have got in position to use all their forces
advantageously. Friday evening I was back at Savnnah and soon after dark a
messenger arrived informing that we were attacked. I immedidately returned to Pittsburg and went out into the field on horseback. The night was intensely dark. I found
that the firing had ceased and started to go back when my horse's foot caught
or struck something and he fell flat on his side with my leg under him.
The Origin And Object Of The War
The War In The West
The Hornets Nest
Union Control of the Mississippi
Papers of Ulysses S Grant
The War In The East
General McClellan Progression