Banks wanted Grant to come help him at Port Hudson, but circumstances have changed. Grant begs off, and asks Banks to come to Vicksburg instead.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Rocky Springs, MISS., May 10, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS, Comdg. Dept. of the Gulf:
GENERAL: My advance will occupy to-day Utica, Auburn, and a point equally advanced toward the Mississippi Southern Railroad, between the latter place and the Big Black. It was my intention, on gaining a foothold at Grand Gulf, to have sent a sufficient force to Port Hudson to have insured the fall of that place with your co-operation, or rather to have co-operate with you to secure that end.
Meeting the enemy, however, as I did, south of Port Gibson, I followed him to the Big Black, and could not afford to retrace my steps. I also learned, and believe the information to be reliable, that Port Hudson is almost entirely evacuated. This may not be true, but it is the concurrent testimony of deserters and contrabands.
Many days cannot elapse before the battle will begin which is to decide the fate of Vicksburg, but it is impossible to predict how long it.
may last. I would urgently request, therefore, that you join me or send all the force you can spare to co-operate in the great for opening the Mississippi River.
My means of gaining information from Port Hudson are not good, but I shall, even before this reaches Baton Rouge, to hear of your forces being on the way here.
Grierson’s cavalry would be of immense service to me now, and if at all practicable for him to join me, I would like to have him do it at once.
For fear of this accidentally falling into the hands of the enemy, I will not communicate to you my force.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT.