The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant
Pittsburg, May 1, 1862
Hon. E.M. Stanton, Secretary of War
Everything progressing well. General Halleck has organized
his army. General Thomas is in command of the right wing. General Grant as
second in command of the whole force, but under Halleck. General McCLernand is
in command of the reserve forces.
A. Scott, Assistant Secretary of War.
Note: Scott is essentially Stanton's errand boy, keeping separate tabs on the generals and reporting directly to Stanton what is going on. Halleck has now relieved Grant, once again, of field command,
sticking him on the sideline. Thomas, commanding a division in Buell's army,
has been detached and placed in command of the Army of the Tennessee. Buell
commands the center column and Pope, clearly Halleck's favorite for offensive
operations at this point, is in command of the left wing.
McClellan's seige of Richmond, Halleck can get at the railroad
Monterey, Tenn, May 4, 1862
Everyone seems very anxious that I should contradict the
statements made by the newspapers. The best contradiction in the world is to
pay no attention to them. The papers will get done with this thing after a
while and look upon the fight at Pittsburg as one of the best resistances
ever made. (Wait until General Lee gets McClellan to Sharpsburg and we can talk
about "one of the best resistances ever made.") The enemy outnumbered
us three to one that day and we held the field.
We now have our advance within three miles of Corinth. It is a big job to get a large army over country roads where it has been raining
for the last five months. The front must be kept compact and we do well to
approach a few miles every day. Yesterday General Pope got possession of the
town of Farmington three miles this side of Corinth.
Note: Is not Grant protesting too
much? He also is still pretending that he was grossly outnumbered at Shilo,
when in fact the forces engaged were about equal, with the Confederates having
a slight edge of perhaps 5,000 men.
Monterey, May 11, 1862
Maj-General Halleck, commanding Department of Mississippi
Since the publication of Special Field Order No. 35,
relieving me from the immediate command of any portion of the Army of the Tennessee, I have my position anomalous. I feel that censure was implied. My position
differs but little from that of one in arrest. I ask either for full
restoration to duty, according to my rank, or to be relieved entirely from
further duty. There has been a persistent studied opposition to me by persons
outside of the army and it may be by some in it.
U.S. Grant, Maj-Gen.
Note: Grant is undoubtedly
correct in his assessment of his status. This is the second time that Halleck
has sidelined him from active field command. It is plain that Halleck does not
like him, either personally or professionally. And it appears that Halleck is
not alone. The military crowd around Lincoln is on Halleck's professional level
and they do not like Grant. Indeed, there really is no objective reason at this
point to like Grant. He has had no problem getting troops under his command
engaged in battle, that's clear, but he has not shown any particular apptitude
for handing the troops once he has got them into action. And he demonstrates a
complete lack of regard for human life when he is willing to move on
fortifications, without taking time to close the open space the troops must
pass to reach the enemy lines.
That's why Halleck has got
everybody but Grant handling the advance of his three columns on Corinth. Also, there must be an attitude involved here, of keeping Grant from gaining any
more notoriety than he has already gained for himself.
near Corinth, May 11, 1862
I write for probably the last time this side of Corinth. I am thinking seriously of going home, or to Washington. I have been so
shockingly abused that I sometimes think it's time to defend myself. But my
record in this war will bear scrutiny without writing anything in reply to the
many attacks made on me.
Note: Grant does not tell his
wife he has been sidelined. Grant did, in later years, write about his conduct
at Shiloh, claiming he was not surprised by the attack.
near Corinth, May 13, 1862
I regard this as the last great battle to be fought in the
Valley of the Mississippi. If the war is to be continued I am anxious to go to
some other field.
We move slow, General Halleck being determined to make shure
work. (Grant can't spell) The roads have been so intolerable that
it has been very difficult to get up supplies for the army.
Note: Again Grant does not tell
Julia about his situation, explaining his reason for wanting to go elsewhere to
the fact that Corinth will be the last full scale battle in the Department of
Mississippi. At this time Lincoln's crowd thinks that the troops now
garrisoning New Orleans can be used to capture Vicksburg, with the help of the
Navy. As we shall see, Lincoln's crowd will leave Grant in command at Corinth while Buell, supported by Pope's (under Rosecrans) army of the Mississippi, goes
off to East Tennessee to capture Chattanooga. East Tennessee is where the
action will be. Only when the Confederates effectively block the Union effort
does Lincoln swtich emphasis to Vicksburg, dropping another opportunity into
Grant's lap to gain national recognition.
Another point to observe here is
that Halleck is doing at Corinth exactly what McClellan is doing on the Yorktown Peninsula, yet Lincoln is carping constantly at McClellan and saying nothing to
Halleck. Why is this, the record does not say.
near Corinth, May 14, 1862
Hon. E.B. Washburne
The great number of attacks made upon me by the press of the
country is my apology for not writing to you oftener. To say that I have not been
distressed by them is a false statement. All subject to my orders read these
charges and it is calculated to weaken their confidence in me and weaken my
ability to render efficient service. Notoriety has no charms for me. Those
people who expect a field of battle to be maintained for a whole day, with
about 30,000 troops, most of them raw, against 70,000, without loss of life,
know little of war. To have left the field for the enemy to occupy until our
force was sufficient to have gained a bloodless victory would have been to
leave the Tennessee to become a second Potomac. There was nothing left for me
but to occupy the west bank and hold it at all hazards. Looking back, I cannot
see any point that could be corrected.
near Corinth, May 16, 1862
We are moving slowly but in a way to insure success. I feel
confident myself. What move next after the attack on Corinth is hard to
predict. It must depend to a great extent upon the movements of the enemy.
Note: Grant still has not
informed his wife of his situation. His statement, "It must depend to a
great extent upon the movements of the enemy" what happens next, is hardly
correct. After Corinth falls, any intelligent officer can look at a theater map
and recognize that it is the Union armies that will decide what happens next,
and that clearly is to shift their weight to East Tennessee for a campaign
against Chattanooga, pressing the Confederate heartland at the west end while
McCellan presses it at the east end. Once Chattanooga falls, then it will be
time enough, if necessary, to deal with Vicksburg. The last general, Halleck
and Lincoln's crowd intend to look to, to lead the campaign in East Tennessee, is Grant.
near Corinth, May 24, 1862
My duties are now much lighter than they have been
heretofore. General Halleck, being present, relieves me of great responsibilty.
Corinth, May 31, 1862
Corinth is now in our hands without much fighting. What the
next move is, or the part I am to take, I do not know. I shall apply to go home
if there is not an important command assigned to me. My rank is second in this
Department and I shall expect the first separate command and hope it will be to
go to Memphis and make headquarters there.
What Happened in May 1862
The War In The West
The Papers of General Grant
The War in the East
The Papers of General McClellan