December 7, 1863: On to Mobile!

Ulysses S. Grant

Grant has been itching to take Mobile ever since Vicksburg fell. He sees little hope of doing anything from his current position at Chattanooga, especially in the winter, and now he appeals to Halleck yet again to let him take his armies to Mobile. Would the war have been shorter if Grant had been allowed to stay in the west and pursue this strategy?

Official Records:

Chattanooga, Tennessee December 7, 1863.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: It may now safely be assumed that the enemy are driven from the front, or at least that they no longer threaten it in any formidable numbers.

The country south of this is extremely mountainous, affording but little for the support of an army. The roads are bad at all times, and the season is so far advanced that an extensive campaign form here this winter may be looked upon as impossible. Our supplies and means of transportation would not admit of a very early campaign, if the season did.

Not feeling willing, or rather desiring to avoid keeping so large a force idle for months, I take the liberty of suggesting a plan of campaign that I think will go far toward breaking down the rebellion before spring; it will at least keep the enemy harassed and prevent that reorganization which could be effected by spring if left uninterrupted. The rainy season will soon set in. The roads will then be so bad that the enemy cannot move a large army into Tennessee.

A comparatively small force will be able to hold the present line, and thereby relieve the railroads and enable them to accumulate supplies by the time the roads become passable. With the force thus relieved, and what can be gathered from other parts of this military division, I propose, with the concurrence of higher authority, to move by way of New Orleans and Pascagoula on Mobile. I would hope to secure that place, or its investment, by the last of January. Should the enemy make an obstinate resistance at Mobile I would fortify outside and leave a garrison sufficient to hold the garrison of the town, and with the balance of the army make a campaign into the interior of Alabama, and possibly Georgia. The campaign, of course, would be suggested by the movements of the enemy. It seems to me this move would secure the entire States of Alabama and Mississippi and a part of Georgia, or force Lee to abandon Virginia and North Carolina. Without his force the enemy have not got army enough to resist the army I can take. There is no necessity for me enlarging upon this, because I could say nothing in favor of it that will not suggest itself to you. Hoping an early reply by telegraph, this is respectfully, submitted.

I am, general, &c.,



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