August 14, 1863: Beach the Marines

The Autocrat, Flagship of Brigadier General Alfred W. Ellet's Marine Brigade, Patrolling the Mississippi
The Autocrat, flagship of A.W. Ellet’s Marine Brigade

Apparently General Ellet had a brigade of cavalry on boats on the Mississippi, and these “marines” were a bit hard to handle. Grant appealed to the Secretary of War to give him the brigade and free the boats for more effective use.

Official Records:


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Vicksburg, Miss., August 14, 1863.
Brig. General L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General of the Army:

GENERAL: Inclosed I send you a letter directed to General Ransom from A. T. Bowie. This is but one of numerous complaints made of the conduct of the Marine Brigade under General Ellet.

I think it highly probable the charges brought against the Marine Brigade are exaggerated. But that this conduct is bad,and their services but very slight in comparison to the great expense they are to Government and the injury they do, I do not doubt. Seven of the finest boats on the Mississippi River are kept for the use of this brigade-the brigade, I understand,not numbering over 800 effective men. They live on board their boats,keeping cavalry horses and all with them, I should think very much to the prejudice of their effectiveness and the good of the service.

These boats,in charge of the department commander,might be made very useful in transporting troops from one place to another within the department,and in carrying troops to operate against guerrillas. But then the troops should be selected with reference to their commanding officer,and the numbers necessary with reference to the service to be performed.

If there is nothing in the terms of enlistment of the Marine Brigade to prevent it, I would earnestly reconvene that they be transferred to the land service and their boats to the quartermaster’s department,to be used as suggested above. If they cannot be so transferred, I would as earnestly recommend that the whole brigade be mustered out of service and the boats be taken for general use. I am fully satisfied the boats are worth much more to the service than the boats and men.

I am,general,very respectfully,your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,
Major-General

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[Inclosure.]

NATCHEZ, August 4.1863.

Brigadier-General RANSOM:

As requested, I give the information obtained here in reference to Mr. John Routh and his grandsons, Mr. Anerew S. Routh.

Dr. J. Y. Hollingsworth,from Hard Times Landing, La.,3 miles above Grand Gulf,brought the following information here on Sunday week last:

That on or about the 21st of July a company of marine cavalry (styling themselves of the authority of the United States,and whose play was their booty) landed at Judge Perkins’, or Ashwood Landing, La.,dashed around Lake St. Joseph,inquiring for Mr. John Routh. On reaching his plantation demanded from him,first,his arms,which were given them. They then burst open a barrel of whisky,made all of the negroes drunk,and in that way learned where his valuables were,consisting of silver-ware,liquors,meats,clothes,table and house linen,and even scuffled with him for his purse. They took the amount of $25,000 worth of property-$15,000 of silver-ware,and perhaps the largest and most valuable private collection of table and house linen in the southern country.

Mr. Routh is an old man of nearly seventy years;had his house,gin,barn stables,and everything burned last spring at the [time the] others on the lake had lost their property. These marines also threatened to take him prisoner;did take his grandson, Mr. Andrew S. Routh,prisoner,who is now,it is said,in jail at Vicksburg. Andrew had not been in jail at Vicksburg. Andrew had not been in the army since last April;has been with his grandfather assisting him in taking care of his property. He had been ordered back to Colonel Harrison’s regiment,but determined to put in a substitute,in order that he might remain with his grandfather,and this was his position at the time he was taken off by Ellet’s marines. Mr. Routh is all alone,and wishes Andrew to live with him.

Very respectfully,yours,

A. T. BOWIE.

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VICKSBURG, MISS., August 14, 1863.

(Via Louisville, Ky.,23rd. Received 1.10 p.m.)

Hon. E. M. STANTON:

SIR: Major-General Grant is very desirous of having transferred to him Brigadier -General Ellet’s command,which is in accordance with the wishes of Admiral Porter. General Ellet has seven of the largest and finest boats on the western waters for a command not exceeding 800 effective men. General Grant constantly requires transports for troops,and if this transfer is made he will land General Ellet’s command,and thus be enabled fully to avail himself of the transports;besides,he can give General Ellet,when on shore,a command more suitable tho his rank.

L. THOMAS,

Adjutant-General.

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