April 11, 1863: Encourage blacks to come in the Union lines

Gen.  Frederick Steele

Grant orders Gen. Steele to stay in Greenville, 80 miles north of Vicksburg and just disrupt things for the rebels. Especially to collect all the slaves in the area who want to become free.

Official Records:


MILLIKEN’S BEND, La., April 11, 1863.

Major General FRED. STEELE, Comdg. Eleventh Div., Army of Tennessee:

Remain with your DIVISION at Greenville, for further orders. It is a better place for your troops than your old camp, and to some extent may serve to keep the enemy from getting provisions from the Deer Creek country. Rebellion has assumed that shape now that it can only terminate by the complete subjugation of the South or the overthrow of the Government. It is our duty, therefore, to use every means to weaken the enemy, by destroying their means of subsistence, withdrawing their means of cultivating their fields, and in every other way possible.

All the negroes you have you will provide for where they are, issuing to them necessary rations until other disposition is made of them. You will also encourage all negroes, particularly middle-aged males, to come within our lines.

General L. Thomas is now here, with authority to make ample provision for the negro. I will direct Colonel [Robert] Macfeely to make arrangements for sending your rations. Whilst at Greenville, destroy or bring off all the corn and beef-cattle you possibly can. The 150 bales of cotton you speak of may be brought in, and 100 additional bales if they can be taken either [from] neighbors to the Douglas’ plantation or persons holding office under the Confederate Government.

U. S. GRANT.

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