January 14, 1862: Grant goes ahead

Ulysses S. Grant

Here’s the difference between Grant and most of the generals; when Grant found that his reinforcements were delayed, he decided to go ahead without them. As we’ve seen previously, he was making a demonstration southward from Paducah to draw attention from Buell’s actions.

He also took action against an ineffective subordinate. Apparently there was some difficulty in manning the gunboats generally, and one Captain Kountz wasn’t helping.

From the Official Record:

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF CAIRO,
Cairo, January 14, 1862.
Captain J. C. KELTON, Saint Louis, Mo.:

The troops from Saint Louis expected to-day have not yet arrived. I have, however, commenced the move directed a few days since without them, occupying to-night Blandville, Elliott’s Mill, and Fort Jefferson.

Yesterday a reconnoitering party of cavalry, supported by infantry, went within 3 miles of Columbus, driving in the enemy’s pickets.

To-day I accompanied Commodore Foote, with the gunboats Essex, St. Louis, and Tyler, to within 1 1/2 miles of the batteries at Columbus. A few shells were thrown around the batteries by the Essex and St. Louis, with what effect I cannot tell. The enemy replied with two or three shots without effect. In making this move I found myself much embarrassed by efficiency in the quartermaster’s department.

Captain Kountz, who was recently sent here as master of transportation, from his great unpopularity with river men and his wholesale denunciation of everybody connected with the Government here as thieves and cheats, was entirely unable to get crews for the necessary boats. I was compelled to order that boatmen, if they declined serving voluntarily, should be put aboard the boats and made to serve as prisoners. Many expressed a willingness to serve if I said so, but would not work under the captain, and others left the city, as I am informed, solely to avoid the possibility of having to serve under his direction.

He seems to have desired to be placed on duty here for no other purpose than to wreak his revenge upon some river men whom he dislikes, and to get into the service of Government a boat in which he has an interest, either as owner or a former proprietorship, not yet settled for. He has caused so much trouble and shown such a disregard for my orders, that I have been compelled to order his arrest. I would respectfully ask that he be ordered to another field of duty. As I shall be off to-morrow morning charges cannot be preferred until my return, and it is embarrassing to the service just at this time to have courts-martial sitting. I respectfully submit this matter to the general commanding the department for his decision.

Colonel Cavanaugh, commanding a regiment of cavalry now stationed at Shawneetown, has received a telegraphic order from Springfield, Ill., to report himself there to organize a brigade, his regiment to form a part, to be reported for orders to General Buell. As his services can be spared for a few days I have him leave to go to Springfield, but informed him that his regiment cannot be moved without orders coming through headquarters of the department. The colonel desires me to say that he has a decided preference for remaining in this department. This, however, I do not regard, as it is his duty to go where ordered, and where his services can be of the most value.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

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