Friday, February 22, 2013

February 23, 1863 (Monday): The State of Mississippi

General Greenville M. Dodge

CORINTH, MISS., February 23, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Opposite Vicksburg:
    SIR: There are some matters south of this that may be of interest to you, and perhaps I may be excused for communicating them direct. They have been sent, part of them, to my immediate commanders. The scouts posted at Mobile, Meridian, and Jackson have sent in long reports, and the substance of those that can be relied upon are about as follows:
1. No troops have come to Pemberton's army since Smith's 10,000 joined him about Christmas.
2. All troops from Mobile up the road, and from Grenada, have gone to Vicksburg and Port Hudson, leaving a few thousand at Mobile, some 600 at Meridian, and two regiments at Jackson, and about three regiments of militia at Grenada. A portion that left Grenada are posted on Black River. Everything in the shape of cavalry, even to the partisan rangers as low down as Port Hudson, joined Van Dorn in his move to Tennessee, leaving perhaps a regiment or two north of Grenada, a few at Okolona, and a few companies just south of me. Everything in the shape of Government property has been taken away form the country bordering the Yazoo and adjacent streams, and all prominent points, such as Jackson, Grenada, Columbus, &c. At Jackson the foundries are running and a cotton-mill or two, and perhaps a Government shoe and clothing shop, but every preparation is being made to take them away. West Mississippi is being entirely stripped of stock, provisions, forage, &c., and everything indicates that they are getting ready for a quick move.
    In the last ten days some 3,000 negroes have been pressed and put to work at Columbus, Miss.., and one or two points near Meridian, while the great stock of cars and engines at Meridian are being taken east and south. I appears to be the opinion of the scouts that the enemy are making preparations to take up the line of the Tombigbee for the go up Big Black, when their army will have to take position to save Selma and Mobile.
     The trains go loaded from Vicksburg daily with sick and discharged soldiers. They say that they average 12 cars a day. Last week two heavy steamboat engines and the prow to a ram went up the road to Jackson; said to be placed in some boat in the Yazoo.
      Deserters and conscripts are flocking into my lines daily, and, so far as the above statements are concerned, they corroborate them. The raking of the entire State of Mississippi for stock and provisions is as vigorously carried on as it was in Tennessee by Bragg. Van Dorn took about 8,000 mounted men and two batteries away with him. He is now at Columbia, Tenn., with Wheeler and Forrest, and Bragg has taken everything that is movable and that his army does not really need south of the Tennessee. He had put the railroad in order from Decatur to Tuscumbia; bought up all the corn in the valley, and got ready to move it by cars to Decatur and by boat to Bridgeport just as I struck Tuscumbia. My forces are on their way to Decatur now, which will stop that game. I still have men in Meridian, Columbus, Mobile, and Jackson, while one has gone on to Vicksburg, and will try to get to you. Every one sends up the same report, and you have got the substance of them in this.
     These little items may all be known to you, but, as they came so direct to me, I believe it is my duty to send them.
     I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     G. M. DODGE.

Official Records Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Pages 64-65.

Dodge's missive paints an accurate picture of the dispersed nature of Confederate forces in the western theater.  Of particular note are the statements about 12 train cars worth of sick and discharged soldiers leaving daily, and the lack of reinforcements going to Pemberton at Vicksburg.  It is a matter of time before these imbalances in strength fall heavily on the Confederates.

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