McClernand lodges a formal protest against Grant’s action at Vicksburg. And it’s not just for himself. It’s for the President and the Secretary of War, and after all the whole expedition was McClernand’s idea in the first place. At least, that’s how he remembers it. In his defense, he did push hard for the river-based assault on Vicksburg, while Grant preferred to approach from the rear via Holly Springs, Grenada, and Jackson. Van Dorn’s Holly Springs raid disrupted Grant’s supply lines, and Grant now finds himself forced to approach from the river side. In hindsight, he’d probably have done better to cut loose from the supply train and just advance on Jackson anyway, but it’s too late to turn back now. And none of the other commanders on this expedition had any confidence in McClernand’s capacity to lead it.
HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Before Vicksburg, February 1, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: Your dispatch of this date, in answer to mine of yesterday, is received. You announce it to be the intention of General Orders, Number 13, to relieve me from the command of the Mississippi River expedition, and to circumscribe my command to the Thirteenth Army Corps, and undertake to justify the order by authority granted by the General-in-Chief. I acquiesce in the order for the purpose of avoiding a conflict of authority in the presence of the enemy, but, for reasons set forth in my dispatch of yesterday, which, for anything disclosed, I still hold good, I protest against its competency and justice, and respectfully request that this, my protest, together with the accompanying paper, may be forwarded to the General-in-Chief, and through him to the Secretary of War and the President. I request this, not only in respect for the President and Secretary, under whose express authority I claim the right to command the expedition, but in justice to myself as its author and actual promoter.
Your obedient servant,
JOHN A. McClernand,