Vicksburg: Grant’s Command Confirmed

February 1, 1863 – Major General Ulysses S. Grant finally received confirmation from Washington that Major General John A. McClernand was his subordinate, though Grant did not want McClernand in his army at all.

Gen U.S. Grant | Image Credit:

McClernand responded to Grant’s message from the 31st stating that Grant would issue orders through his corps commanders from this point forward and not through McClernand. McClernand still insisted that he commanded an independent “Army of the Mississippi,” and not just a corps within Grant’s Army of the Tennessee as ordered by the War Department in December.

McClernand told Grant that he would go along with the new arrangement “for the purpose of avoiding a conflict of authority in the presence of the enemy.” However, he would officially protest Grant’s move, and from now on, all correspondence between he and Grant should “be forwarded to the General-in-Chief, and through him to the Secretary of War and the President.” McClernand asked this “in justice to myself as its (the Vicksburg expedition’s) author and actual promoter.”

Grant sent McClernand’s dispatches to Washington, along with his reply. He stated that he merely acted upon General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck’s recommendation to leave his Memphis headquarters and take personal command of the Vicksburg operation. Reminding them that Major General William T. Sherman had originally been tasked with the job, Grant wrote, “If General Sherman had been left in command here, such is my confidence in him that I would not have thought my presence necessary.”

Grant then offered his opinion on McClernand’s generalship: “But whether I do General McClernand injustice or not, I have not confidence in his ability as a soldier to conduct an expedition of the magnitude of this one successfully.”

Meanwhile, McClernand appealed directly to President Abraham Lincoln, who had originally authorized him to lead an independent expedition against Vicksburg in October: “Please cause it to be signified to me whether Genl. Grant or myself will have immediate command of the Miss. River Expedition.” Lincoln did not respond, leaving prior War Department orders that Grant take command in effect.


References; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 18307

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