Fresh From His Capture of Vicksburg, Ulysses S. Grant Reports From Gettysburg: "Meade Whipped Lee Badly"

July 10, 1863

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Fresh From His Capture of Vicksburg, Ulysses S. Grant Reports From Gettysburg: "Meade Whipped Lee Badly"
Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages | SMC 1545

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      Background

      Only six days after the siege of Vicksburg ended with the city’s surrender, Grant writes here to Banks, commander of the Department of the Gulf, reporting on the military situation and relaying news of the victory at Gettysburg…
       
      Grant tells Banks - whose army lay in siege around Port Hudson, the final Confederate position on the Mississippi – that he is sending help: “I send Maj. Gen. [Francis] Herron to Port Hudson with the available infantry force of his Div. I feel confident that Port Hudson will be in your possession before these troops reach you.” Noting that Confederate General Richard Taylor had men in the vicinity, Grant proposes that “you might want to make a prompt movement to capture him.” He requests Banks to return the troops as soon as he can spare them, and asks, too, that he send him one of his best Cavalry commanders. “I am very much in want of Cavalry,” Grant confesses, “and of [Benjamin] Grierson to command them.”
       
      Alert to a second Confederate Army in Mississippi under the command of General Joseph Johnston, Grant reports that “All my surplus troops were held in readiness to move on Johnson the moment Vicksburg fell. They started the same day.” But inasmuch as General William T. Sherman’s army was nine miles from Jackson, and that skirmishing had occurred, Grant confidently predicts “Gen. Sherman will give Gen. Johnston no rest on this side of the Pearl River.” What will happen next, though, Grant does not know. “With the exception of clearing out Kirby Smith’s forces on the West side of the Miss. River I have but little idea of what is next to be done with our Western forces. Hope to have instructions from Washington soon.” He then informs Banks of news from General Benjamin Prentiss, commander of the East Arkansas District. “On the 4th of July Gen. Prentiss was attacked by [Theophilus] Holmes, [Sterling] Price, [Mosby] Parsons, & [John] Marmaduke with a force vastly superior to his own, numerically.” Grant remarks that Prentiss only suffered 250 casualties while “They had picked up about 300 of the enemy's dead and had captured 1100 prisoners” and that “at every hour and in every road… they find wounded men left by the enemy.”
       
      The best news, however, Grant saves for last. “I received a telegraphic dispatch from the Gen. Supt. of telegraphs, Washington, of the 5th of July” he announces, “stating that Meade had whipped Lee badly and that the latter was retreating and Meade in full pursuit.” The defeat of Lee at Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg marked the turning point in the Civil War – although it would take almost two more years of struggle and slaughter, before Lee would surrender to Grant at Appomattox.


      Autograph Letter Signed (“U.S. Grant / Maj. Gen”), 4 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Head Quarters, Department of the Tennessee, Vicksburg, Mississippi, July 10, 1863. To Major General Nathaniel Banks.
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      Head Quarters, Dept. of the Tn.
      Vicksburg Miss. July 10th 1863.
       
      Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks,
      Comdg. Dept. of the Gulf,
       
      Gen.
       
      I send Maj. Gen. Herron to Port Hudson with the available Infantry force of his Div.  

      I feel confidant [sic] that Port Hudson will be in your possession before these troops reach you, but learning of the position Gen. Taylors [sic] forces I did not know but you might want to make a prompt movement to capture him which could not be done without other forces to take the place of some of yours where they now are. 

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      Page 2 transcript
      As I informed you in my letter of the 4th inst. all my [text is crossed out] surplus troops were held in readiness to move on Johnston the moment Vicksburg fell.  They started the same day.  I have had no word from them since yesterday morning.  At that time Gen. Sherman was at Clinton nine miles from [text is crossed out] Jackson. His advance had slight skirmishing with the enemy’s Cavalry but nothing further at that time.
       
      Gen. Sherman will give Johnston no rest on this side of Pearl River. 

      With the exception of clearing out Kirby Smith’s forces on the West side of the Miss. river I have but little idea of what is next to be done with our Western forces. Hope to 

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      Page 3 transcript
      have instructions from Washington soon however.
       
      On the 4th of July Gen. Prentiss was attacked at Helena by Holmes, Price, Parsons & Marmaduke with a force vastly superior to his own, numerically.  Gen. Prentiss writes me that his loss will not exceed 250 killed, wounded & missing.  They had picked up about 300 of the enemys [sic] dead and had captured 1100 prisoners.  He says further that at every hour and in every road his troops go they find wounded men left by the enemy.
       
      I received a telegraphic dispatch from the Gen. Supt. of telegraphs, Washington, of the 5th of July stating that Meade had whipped Lee badly and that the latter was 

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      retreating and Meade in full pursuit.
       
      The troops I send you General leave behind their baggage, hospitals and artillery.  I hope you will send them back as soon as their services can be dispensed with.  I will also ask that Gen Grierson be sent here as soon as possible.  I am very much in want of Cavalry and of Grierson to command them.
       
      Hoping Gen that you have removed the last barrier to the free navigation of the Mississippi, I remain

      Your very obt. svt.
       
      U. S. GRANT
      Maj. Gen.