October 19, 1863: Sherman takes over Grant’s Army of the Tennessee

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

Grant had been given command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, comprising the Armies of the Tennessee, the Cumberland (formerly Rosecrans’, now superseded by Thomas), and the Ohio (Burnside). He now needed a commander to take his old position as commander of the Army of the Tennessee, and naturally that fell to Sherman. Sherman is still en route to Chattanooga, fighting his past rebel cavalry nibbling at his flanks and trying to maintain roads and railroads for the move.

Grant transmits Sherman’s orders and gives him some advice about managing the march and supply lines.

Official Records:

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Army of the Tennessee, Iuka, Miss.:

GENERAL: Your dispatch of the 14th instant, by Lieutenant Dunn, is received. Inclosed here with find General Orders, No. 2, from these headquarters, assigning you to the command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee; also copy of dispatch* of this date from the General-in-Chief, relating to the movements of troops by General Schofield, and the return of those not required by General Steele to hold Arkansas, to re-enforce your column. The command of the entire forces of the Department of the Tennessee being now in you, you will make such disposition of them as to increase to the greatest possible strength your moving column, and at the same time secure your communications to your base of supplies. Communicate with General Steele and urge the necessity of his sending you the division of Kimball’s, of the Sixteenth Army Corps, and with it, when it arrives, relieve one of the divisions of that corps now maintaining the line of the railroad from Memphis to Corinth, and the division thus relieved bring forward under General Dodge to the front. He is an able officer, one whom you can rely upon in an emergency.

The One hundred and eleventh Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers is stationed at Paducah, Ky.,and number over 800 effective men. If it is necessary to keep troops there at all, a regiment one-third as large would be ample. It should be moved forward, together with any other regiments that can be spared from Memphis and the line of the railroad, and assigned to strength divisions already to the front.

The chief of departments for the West, at Saint Louis, Mo., have been instructed to shove forward, by the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers when they rise, supplies for the troops operating on the Chattanooga and Tennessee line.

Admiral Porter is watching both these rivers and will, the moment there is a sufficient rise in either, send in his gun-boats as far up as possible for the convoying of supply-boats and protection of navigation. You will please put yourself in communication with him at once as commander of the Department of the Tennessee.

You are aware of his good feelings toward, and cordial co-operation with, the army, receiving any suggestion for the good of the service in the most courteous and friendly manner and carrying them out, when possible, promptly and willingly. You will have no difficulty with him.

A proper activity on the part of your cavalry ought to enable it to disperse and drive out of West Tennessee, and from the immediate neighborhood of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, any considerable organized body of the enemy that may be there. The general commanding will leave here to-morrow morning for Chattanooga, where he will establish for the present his headquarters, and until you can communicate with him by a more direct route you will do so there via Nashville, Tenn.

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:
Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.



No. 2.
Louisville, Ky., October 19, 1863.

Subject to the approval of the President, Major General W. T. Sherman, U. S. Volunteers, is hereby assigned to the command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee, headquarters in the field.

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

This entry was posted in Ambrose E. Burnside, Chattanooga, George Thomas, Tennessee, Ulysses S. Grant, William Rosecrans, William Tecumseh Sherman. Bookmark the permalink.

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