March 17, 1862: Grant sends the troops to Pittsburg Landing

Pittsburg Landing
Looking down the river toward Savannah from Pittsburg Landing.

Continuing his thrust toward the important railroad junction at Corinth, Mississippi, Grant needed a place for his growing army to camp and await provisions. Just upstream from the town of Savannah, Tennessee was an area of high ground with a good steamboat docking spot, known as Pittsburg Landing. Grant knew there was a concentration of Confederate forces at Corinth, though he doubted Johnston was there, and knew that there couldn’t be 150,000 of them. He would set up camp and wait.

From the Official Record:

Savannah, Tenn., March 17, 1862.
Captain N. H. McLEAN,
Saint Louis, Mo.:

I have the honor of reporting my arrival but a few minutes since at this place. Just as I arrived a report was received from General Sherman, which I herewith inclose.# A man employed by General Smith as scout also came in, reporting the enemy very strong from Chickasaw to Corinth. Their number was estimated at 150,000, about one-third of them being at Corinth. General Johnston, with his force, is said to be with them. The number is of course very much exaggerated, and Johnston being there was very much against my expectations.

This country is so overflowed that but few roads can be traveled, and all are most impassable for artillery. A few dry days, however, would remedy this, and it is certainly time to look for a change of weather. I shall order all the forces here, except McClernand’s division, to Pittsburg, and send back steamers as rapidly as possible.

It is with great difficulty that quartermasters at Paducah and Cairo can be impressed with the magnitude of our wants in coal and forage. We are not short in both these articles. Corn can be procured here for a few days, but not for a long period. I would respectfully suggest to the general commanding the importance of having funds in the hands of the quartermaster to pay the people for such supplies as we get from them.

All the troops of my command, except those left to garrison Forts Henry and Donelson, two regiments at Clarksville yet to arrive, and McClernand’s division, will be at Pittsburg. The accompanying report of General Sherman, with the above statement, shows the present distribution of my forces. The Fifty-second Illinois, Colonel T. W. Sweeny, commanding, has just arrived.


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