Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 1863: Confederates react to Grant's move against Vicksburg

This map shows how Vicksburg's position on bluffs dominating a bend in the Mississippi River.
Note: the Union positions on the eastern edge of the map are from June-July 1863,  and do not reflect the situation in January 1863.

As sightings of the Union advance towards Vicksburg came in, the Confederate telegraph system came alive as reports were passed up the chain of command
Vicksburg, January 24, 1863.

General S. COOPER, Richmond:

The enemy is landing his forces on the WEST bank, 5 miles above Vicksburg. A memoranda book taken on the person of Colonel [Warren] Stewart, chief of cavalry, killed yesterday, gives strength of Sherman's corps, present, 21,000.

[G. W.] Morgan's corps, in number of regiments, greater than Sherman's, but no aggregate given. McClernand commanding. On 18th, Grant arrived. Told McClernand Vicksburg must be taken; if necessary, would send his entire force.

At special order orders opening the canal. Main force is now encamped along it. The corps are the Thirteenth and Fifteenth. If successful in opening canal, landing will be attempted near Warrenton. This may compel me to withdraw forces from Grenada.

J. C. PEMBERTON.
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Vicksburg, January 24, 1863.

General Johnston, Chattanooga, Tenn.:

Enemy in full force again opposite the city, with indications of attempting to force his way below. This necessarily separates my command. Must have large force at Warrenton. Cannot place troops at Meridian without weakening this place. Book captured from Yankee colonel, killed yesterday, says Vicksburg must be taken. If necessary, will send his whole force; also states canal cut across. Statement says Sherman's corps numbers 20,000. Morgan's regiments greater. Supposing the same strength, the number is 40,000.

J. C. PEMBERTON.
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HDQRS. MAURY'S DIVISION, January 24, 1863-8. 15 p. m.

Major-General STEVENSON:

GENERAL: My picket from Terrapin Neck (Willis', 40 miles above Vicksburg), has just reported. He left his station at light yesterday morning, and reports that on Wednesday eighty-three steamers, eight of which were gunboats, passed down. On Thursday nine steamers passed down. On Friday, he met FIFTEEN steamers going down, making in all one hundred and seven steamers, fourteen or FIFTEEN of which are gunboats or mortar-boats. The sergeant brings with him 3 deserters, whose statements are not of much interest, further than that these are for the most part the same boats and same troops who were repulsed from here on the 29th ultimo, and that they have not been farther up than the Arkansas River; that the transports are going back for more troops.

Very respectfully, yours.

DABNEY H. MAURY.

[Indorsement.]

JANUARY 24, 1863.

Respectfully forwarded for the information of the lieutenant-general commanding.

C. L. STEVENSON.
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GRENADA, January 24, 1863.

Colonel J. R. WADDY:

[Thomas] Henderson's scouts report most of Grant's army in Memphis; 10,000 left on the 20th, under McArthur, and the remainder is to follow immediately for Vicksburg. Are pressing all boats and sending up the river for others. Railroad mostly guarded by cavalry.

W. W. LORING.
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Vicksburg, January 24, 1863.

General S. COOPER, Richmond:

One hundred and seven steamers, of which fourteen or FIFTEEN are gunboats and mortar-boats, passed Terrapin Point between 21st and 23rd . Scouts just in report most of Grant's army in Memphis. Ten thousand left on the 20th for Vicksburg; the remainder to follow immediately. They are pressing all boats and sending up river for others, [and are] working hard at the canal.

J. C. PEMBERTON.

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