April 26, 1864: Grant cans Banks

Ulyssess S. Grant

In this exchange, Grant and Halleck discuss the best way to remove Banks from command given the poor state of communications. He’s not too happy with General Franklin as replacement, but anyone is better than Banks.


WASHINGTON, April 26, 1864-2.15 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

Culpeper, Va.:

Your telegram of the 22nd, asking for the removal of General Banks, was submitted to the President, who replied that he must await further information before he could act in the matter. General Steele was at Camden on the 20th, and was informed of General Banks’s disaster. An order to him to return to Little Rock would probably reach him in five or six days. One to General Banks would not reach hemin less than two or three weeks. This would cause a conflict in your proposed instructions to these officers, if Banks should have advanced on Shreveport, for Steel would then have returned to Little Rock. Would it not be better to send the instructions contained in your telegram to Banks, and a copy of them to General Steele, with orders to communicate with Banks or has successor in command, and to carry out the spirit of your instructions as in his judgment the condition of affairs at the time would require? I omitted to state that Admiral Porter says the failure of Banks’ expedition and the withdrawal of our forces from Red River will result in the loss of nearly all of Louisiana and a part of Arkansas, where there is already a pretty strong Union sentiment. If General Banks is withdrawn from the field General Franklin will be the senior officer left.

H. W. HALLECK,

Major-General, Chief of Staff.

CULPEPER, VA., April 26, 1864.

(Received 7.45 p. m.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

The way you propose to communicate orders to General Steele and General Banks will be better than as I directed. General Franklin is an able officer, but has been so mixed up with misfortune that I would not select him for a large separate command, but he is so much submit this, however, to the President and Secretary of War, whether the change shall be made. I am in hopes the whole problem will be solved before orders reach.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

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