March 9, 1862: Grant tries to quit

Henry Halleck
Henry Halleck

As noted previously, Halleck had little use for Grant. Grant’s recent success at Fort Donelson seems to have just irritated Halleck further. On March 4, Halleck actually removed Grant from command temporarily. Grant’s reports of his troop strength didn’t reach Halleck, possibly because a Confederate sympathizer was intercepting Grant’s communications at the telegraph office. In any case, Halleck went directly to McClellan to complain, while Grant protested that he had been forwarding reports as ordered, and requested to be relieved of duty under a superior who didn’t trust him.


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, March 8, 1862-10.30 a.m.
Major-General McCLELLAN, Washington:

Strange to say, I have not yet received any returns whatever from General Grant, showing the number and positions of his forces. I ordered on the 1st of March, one week ago, the movement up the Tennessee to destroy bridges, &c. I can get no official information of how many have gone or where they now are. Pope’s army having accomplished its main object by turning Columbus on the right, and all the country about New Madrid being overflowed, I have ordered his main body to be withdrawn and sent up the Tennessee. We must pierce the center of the enemy’s new line somewhere below Florence. As Savannah is near the railroad and between Corinth and Henderson, I have directed the landing to be made at that place, unless General Smith, from local information, should deem some other point preferable. I have sent intrenching tools, and shall push forward re-enforcements as rapidly as possible.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

SAINT LOUIS, March 8, 1862.
Major General U. S. GRANT, Fort Henry:

You are mistaken. There is no enemy between you and me. There is no letter of yours stating the number and position of your command since capture of Fort Donelson. General McClellan has asked for it repeatedly with reference to ulterior movements, but I could not give him the information. He is out of all patience waiting for it. Answer by telegraph in general terms.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

FORT HENRY, March 9, 1862.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Saint Louis, Mo.:

Your dispatch of yesterday is just received. I will do all in my power to advance the expedition now started. You had a better chance of knowing my strength whilst surrounding Fort Donelson than I had. Troops were reporting daily, by your order, and immediately assigned to brigades. There were no orders received from you until the 28th February to make out returns, and I made every effort to get them in as early as possible. I have always been ready to move anywhere, regardless of consequences to myself, but with a disposition to take the best care of the troops under my command. I renew my application to be relieved from further duty. Returns have been sent.

U. S. GRANT,
Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT WEST TENNESSEE,
Fort Henry, March 9, 1862.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Saint Louis, Mo.:

Infantry present and for duty, 35,147; cavalry, 3,169; artillery, 12 batteries-aggregate number of pieces, 54; men, 1,231. Location: Infantry embarked on expedition, 25,206; at landing above Fort Henry, awaiting transportation, 5,740; Clarksville, 1, 173; Fort Donelson, 2,328, 1,216 of whom are under marching orders for the Tennessee as soon as transportation can be had. At Fort Henry, 700; cavalry, 1,900, embarked on expedition. One regiment, poorly armed, at Fort Henry, and two companies at Fort Donelson. Artillery all embarked on expedition except one battery of two guns at Fort Donelson. This includes General Sherman’s division of 7,829 infantry and one battery.

A return of the forces and location was mailed to you from Paducah on the 6th instant.

U. S. GRANT,
Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, March 9, 1862.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Fort Henry:

Your letter of the 5th instant, just received, contains the first and only information of your actual forces. If you have reported them before I have not seen them. General McClellan has repeatedly ordered me to report to him daily the numbers and positions of your forces. This I could not do, and the fault certainly was not mine, for I telegraphed to you time and again for the information, but could get no answer. This certainly indicated a great want of order and system in your command, the blame of which was partially thrown on me, and perhaps justly, as it is the duty of every commander to compel those under him to obey orders and enforce discipline. Don’t let such neglect occur again, for it is equally discreditable to you and to me. I really felt ashamed to telegraph back to Washington time and again that I was unable to give the strength of your command.

But to business. I think the guns and stores at Clarksville should be brought down to Paducah. We require no garrison there. Fragmentary regiments equivalent to one regiment will be sufficient to garrison Fort Donelson. The same for Fort Henry. All other troops should be sent up the Tennessee as rapidly as possible. As soon as these things are arranged you will hold yourself in readiness to take the command. There will probably be some desperate fighting in that vicinity, and we must be prepared. See that stores, ammunition, intrenching tools, &c., are forwarded.

Messengers should be sent at least twice a day to the telegraph line, to keep me informed of everything. I am required to report to Washington at least once a day the condition of affairs. Your district was the only one heretofore from which I could not obtain the required information. I shall organize and send you re-enforcements as rapidly as possible, and when I get them under way I shall join you myself.

H. W. HALLECK,

Major-General.

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One Response to March 9, 1862: Grant tries to quit

  1. Chris says:

    Any idea who the Confederate was who intercepted the telegraph? On an Answer website, a question is whether it was George M Parsons. One of my ancestors in TN, John Kite, was a Confederate spy. I wondered if he might be involved. See chriswkite.blogspot.com

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