Wednesday, May 21, 2014

April 3, 1864 (Thursday): Sherman Aims at Mobile

Cotton on Docks at Mobile (Library of Congress)

Major-General BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf, Red River:
    GENERAL: The thirty days for which I loaned you the command of General A. J. Smith will expire on the 10th instant. I send down with this Brigadier General J. M. Corse, to carry orders to General Smith, and to give directions to a new movement which is also preliminary to the general campaign.* General Corse may see you and explain in full, but lest he should not find you in person I will simply state that Forrest, availing himself of the absence of our furloughed men, and of this detachment with you, has pushed up between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers, even to the Ohio. He has attacked Paducah, but got the worst of it, and still lingers about that place. I hope he will remain thereabouts till A. J. Smith makes his destined point, but this I can hardly count on; yet I want A. J. Smith to reach by the Yazoo a position near Grenada, and thence operate against Forrest, after which to march across to Decatur, Ala. You will see he has a big job, and therefore must start at once. From all I can see, my troops reached Alexandria at the time agreed on, viz, March 17, and I hear of them up at Natchitoches, but I cannot hear of your troops being above Opelousas.
     Steele is also moving. I leave Steele's entire force to co-operate with you and the navy, but as I before stated I must have A. J. Smith's troops now, as soon as possible. I beg you will expedite their return to Vicksburg, if they have not already started, and I want them, if possible, in the same boats they used up Red River, as it will save the time otherwise consumed in the transfer to other boats. All is well in this quarter and I hope by the time you turn against Mobile our forces will again act to the same end, though at distant points. General Grant, now having lawful control, will doubtless see that all minor objects are disregarded, and all the armies acting on a common plan.
   Hoping ere this reaches you that you are in possession of Shreveport, I am, with great respect, &c.,

   Major-General, Commanding.
*For Sherman to Smith and Corse, see Vol. XXXII, Part III, pp. 242, 244.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 34, Part 3, Page 24.

Banks was on the move in 20 transports with 6 naval ships accompanying him, headed for Springfield Landing, 110 miles north of Shreveport.  Confederate opposition to this point had consisted mainly of cavalry skirmishing.  The place Forrest occupied in the minds of Union planners is evident from Sherman's continued focus on him.  Psychologically he was having an impact, but strategically his force was mainly a distraction.  Sherman had his eyes fixed on a bigger prize, Mobile.

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