January 30, 1864: Instructions to McPherson

Sherman continues preparations for the Meridian expedition. Here he instructs McPherson to take infantry inland, in cooperation with Porter on the rivers, to harry the secessionists and destroy transport.

Official Records:

Vicksburg, Miss., January 30, 1864.
Major-General McPHERSON,
Commanding Seventeenth Army Corps, Vicksburg:

GENERAL: Pursuant to my verbal instructions of to-day you have designated the Eleventh Illinois and Eighth Louisiana Regiments to make the expedition up the Yazoo. I wish you would instruct the commanding officer as follows: To act in perfect concert with Captain Owen, U. S. Navy, who acts under my orders by instructions from Admiral Porter. He is instructed simultaneously with our movement inland to explore and scout the Yazoo and Sunflower, to make the planters along those rivers feel that they are to be held responsible for the safety of the navigation of so much of the Mississippi as lays parallel with the Yazoo.

Instruct the officer in command to collect a thousand bales of cotton to be delivered to the agents of the U. S. Treasury, to be converted into money with which to indemnify the owners of the steamer Allen, Collier, burned in the Mississippi River opposite Bolivar County; for the cotton and gins of Dr. Duncan, recently burned by guerrillas on his plantation near Skipwith’s, and other minor depredations on our lawful commerce. Let these boats also collect corn and forage, giving receipts only to the quiet and loyal people, but not to the disloyal. Let the commanding officer impress on the people that we shall periodically visit that country and destroy property or take it, as long as parties of Confederate troops or guerrillas infest the river banks.

If, on the contrary, the inhabitants will organize for their own self-defense and for protecting their county from the acts of unfriendly parties, we will gradually open to them a friendly intercourse and trade.

All bands of guerrillas or Confederates must be engaged, and if possible punished.

This expedition should be up the Yazoo two or three weeks, and should visit every navigable part of the Yazoo and its tributaries as far up as Fort Pemberton, Greenwood, or Sidon. The commanding officer should act in concert with Captain Owen, and if the expedition reaches its destination in a less time than herein indicated, and if an opportunity offers, he may disembark and visit Grenada, or some point on the Central Mississippi Road, breaking it so effectually that it cannot be used by the enemy.

Great discretion should be left to the officer in charge, the chief object being to show a force up in those waters while we are occupied in a different quarter, and while General Sooy Smith is sweeping down from Memphis toward Okolona and Meridian. The enemy must not be allowed to flee and seek shelter from this party near the Yazoo.

I am, with respect, &c.,
Major-General, Commanding.

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