Oxford, Dec 15th 1862
MAJOR GEN. SHERMAN, MEMPHIS, TENN.
CARE CAPT. FITCH, COLUMBUS, KY.
If there is any difficulty about getting possession of the forces at Helena that were thrown to the West bank of the river assume command of them by Gen. Hallecks order and organize them and take them off. I hope Steele will be able to go with them.
It is to be hoped that you will have no trouble in getting possession of these troops but be prepared to act positively if necessary.
U. S. GRANT
Copies, DLC-USG, V, 18, 30, 91; DNA, RG 393, Dept. of the Tenn., Letters Sent. O. R., I, xvii, part 2, 414.
On Dec. 18,1862, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman wrote to Lt. Col. John A. Rawlins. "Capt H. S. Fitch arrived last night with your Despatches of Dec 15th & 16th. All right—I am now in full receipt of letters from Col Parsons General Allens Agent for chartering Boats who assures me plenty of Boats will be here today. I am furnished the names of some Sixty Boats. I have some 15 here now loading, and have at Helena about ten, and am momentarily looking for the whole Fleet. As soon as they arrive I will be on board and off for Helena—Admiral Porter is just in from above, having been detained four days, by low water, but his letters are all we could ask. I am also informed that there is a rise in the water above so that the Fleet of Boats ought not to be longer delayed. Evry possible preperation has been made, so that no moment should be lost. If the fleet came today all shall be on board tomorrow and I hope to be at Helena the 20th and at Millikens Bend, Where we shall first begin to act by the 23 or 24th. Nothing is wanting but the Boats and I feel evry assurance they will be here today. I was all ready so that evn the loss of one day must not be charged to me. General Gorman and Steele both write me most satisfactorily from Helena, and indeed we must admit they have fulfilled their parts handsomely. I give Steele full command of the Division at Helena which by the addition of Blairs Brigade, part of which 3 Regts. have passed and the men reported near at hand, will reach near 13 000 men, so that I hope to have 33 000 men. Such a force operating at Vicksburg in concert with the Gunboats will make something to yield and prepare your way. You will have heard that our Iron Clad Gunboat Cairo was sunk in the Yazoo by the Explosion of one of the Infernal machines. The weather is fine, and I repeat I only await the fleet of Transports to be off." ALS, DNA, RG 94, War Records Office, Union Battle Reports. O. R., I, xvii, part 2, 426; O. R. (Navy), I, xxiii, 557-58.