James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  river, left Grant in a state of grave perplexity. What should be tried next? “The strategical way according to the rule,” he wrote, “would have been to go back to Memphis; establish that as a base of supplies … and move from there along the line of the railroad.” This was the advice of Sherman, his ablest and most trusted lieutenant. But, reasoned Grant, that is a backward movement and gravely objectionable, because it will intensify the discouragement with the war prevailing at the North. “There was nothing left to be done,” he said, “but to go forward to a decisive victory.” 1” Without a council of war, without even consulting any of his able officers, he formed his plan, and hoped for approval from Washington after he had begun to carry it out. He revealed it to his government in his despatches to Halleck, all of which are marked by courtesy and respect. From the confident and masterly tone of his communications, we may imagine with what satisfaction they were read by the President who, before the news of any signal success was received, authorized a despatch which gave Grant “full and absolute authority to enforce his own commands” and bore this further assurance, “He has the full confidence of the government.” 2  47   On March 23, Grant ordered the concentration of his army at Milliken’s Bend. On the 29th, the roads having dried up somewhat although still “intolerably bad,” he directed McClernand’s corps to march to New Carthage, while Sherman and McPherson with their corps were in due time to follow. The movement was slow, for the transportation of supplies and ammunition and the progress of the artillery were exceedingly difficult. For the success of the enterprise, the coöperation of the navy was necessary and from acting-Admiral Porter Grant received efficient
Note 1. Grant, I, 443. [back]
Note 2. May 5, O. R., XXIV, Pt. I, 84. [back]