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Gallop Part Six (Lew Wallace and U.S. Grant in Memphis)

 

US Grant later reported that he arrived in Memphis, set up his HQ and waited (expecting Wallace to visit him in recognition of Grant's “senior commander” status) but Wallace did not come. So Grant went to see Wallace.

For this meeting of Major General Grant with Major General Lew Wallace... it would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall and overheard the actual conversation (and this writer suspects that it was similar in tone to a conversation likely to have been conducted between Grant and Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss which took place at Savannah Tennessee on March 31 or April 1st 1862.) From what details were recorded:

  • Grant appears to have expressed displeasure with Wallace's lack of subjugation (lack of acknowledgement of Major General Grant's status as senior officer)

  • Grant confronted Wallace with his “lack of authority to enter Memphis”

  • Grant asserted “NO reports had been sent to Halleck” (OR 17 part 2 page 26). And Grant relayed Halleck's insistence that Wallace had NO authority to be in Memphis; and demanded an explanation: “Why are you here?”

  • Grant countered Wallace's attempted explanation: “There is NO enemy south of Memphis” (page 13).

  • Grant demanded a roster of the Third Division (and complained it took too long for Wallace to comply with its production)

  • Wallace may have suffered nervous breakdown: he was bombarded with demands for troop rosters; informed that “none of his communications had reached Halleck,” the “enemy to his south was a figment of his own imagination” and the former command structure of Left Wing, Right Wing, Center and Reserve used against Corinth had been broken up: Wallace was effectively working for General Grant again... and had been since June 10th (see OR 17 (part 2) page 3.) Yet, Wallace had not been sending reports to Major General Grant...

  • The District of West Tennessee was reiterated on 12 June 1862 via General Orders No.33 (see OR 17 (part 2) page 7.)

  • [Of interest: the end of the telegraph line running from Pittsburg Landing to Halleck's HQ was in close proximity to Major General Grant's tent during the Operation against Corinth. And on 14 June 1862 Halleck in a communication with General Pope, stated, “I have been confined to my tent for several days with, 'the Evacuation of Corinth' [alluding to a medical condition] see page 9 of OR 17 (part two). This would have given Grant or Rawlins opportunity to intercept messages from Lew Wallace, and perhaps “hold onto them for a while.” ]

  • Wallace requested Leave effective that day 23 June. (Grant allowed two weeks Leave.)

Grant later reported to Halleck on 24 June 1862:

  • “Wallace has been given Leave, which he requested.”

  • Hovey is in command of the Third Division.

  • “I need more men: the current number at Memphis is not enough with Rebels in vicinity (so Grant would request another division be added to the current force of about 4000)”

  • Church leaders need to omit “pro-Secession remarks” from sermons.

Aftermath of Lew Wallace's departure from Memphis:

  • [The Third Division soon ceased to exist as an organized fighting force. Bits were detached and sent elsewhere; but the 47th Indiana of Colonel Slack was incorporated into an organization (under Alvin Hovey) that became known as the 12th Division (see Order of Battle for Vicksburg).] A NEW Third Division was subsequently created in January 1863, incorporating regiments that had fought at Shiloh, and under the command of BGen John A. Logan.

  • Because of the above restructure, there was “no Third Division” for Lew Wallace to return to (should he press his case for return to his former command.)

On 22 June 1862 Major General Sherman sent a train east along the Memphis & Charleston towards Corinth a day ahead of schedule in order to test the rebuilt line. At La Fayette Station the train was derailed; and the occupants attacked. The Colonel of the 56th Ohio Infantry and two dozen of his men were captured by Rebel cavalry belonging to W. H. Jackson's 1st Tennessee Cavalry... It was the first of an ongoing series of raids “by Rebels who were nowhere near” against the M & C Railroad that effectively stopped direct Federal operations between Memphis and Corinth (resulting in re-routing of rail traffic Northeast from Memphis to the junction with the Mobile & Ohio R.R. at Humboldt; change trains; and continue south at a snail's pace in order to reach Corinth (which remained in danger of being isolated until December 1862.)

Colonel Grierson of the 6th Illinois Cavalry returned to Memphis from his expedition south into Mississippi [see OR 17 (part 1) pages 9 – 10]. Grierson reported that his 315 men rode south to Hernando, 25 miles away, and entered the town at 5 am ...and encountered no one: M. Jeff. Thompson had moved his force twelve miles away to Coldwater. Grierson hurried south to Coldwater Station, just missed the train full of Rebels steaming south, and attacked the Confederate force left at the station (causing 19 casualties to the Rebels). Subsequently learning that a cavalry force of 800 Rebels was on its way to Coldwater from Yalabusha, Colonel Grierson destroyed everything of use to the Rebels at Coldwater Station: “We started our return, and camped three miles north of Hernando that night. My pickets exchanged fire with the enemy during the night; and in the morning we continued our trek north and arrived back at Memphis at 1 pm on June 22nd (Lew Wallace does not appear to have received this report; it was likely received by the new Commander in Memphis: MGen Grant.)

And Lew Wallace was detached from the Army of West Tennessee, never to return.

References:

OR 17 (part 2) pages 3 – 26.

OR 17 (part 1) pages 10 – 12.

Papers of US Grant vol.5 pages 148 – 151.

Rail-roads.jpg

Map shows line of Memphis & Ohio to Humboldt (change trains) continue south on Mobile & Ohio to reach Corinth from Memphis from July 1862.

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Heady Day

 

23 June 1862 was a banner day for Ulysses S. Grant. He had solved his “Lew Wallace problem” with that man's departure... at his own request. The only real thorn remaining to irritate Major General Grant was Major General John A. McClernand; but with patience, and the arrival of fortuitous opportunity, perhaps that thorn could be removed, soon, as well.

Ulysses Grant as senior officer in the former Rebel Capital of Tennessee anticipated the pending arrival of wife, Julia; and in meantime would take steps to revoke Wallace's draconian measures, especially IRT newspaper suppression and the rights of citizens of Memphis and the correct interaction of Federal troops with those citizens: IAW General Orders No.56 issued under signature of AAG John Rawlins shortly after Grant's arrival, “[Federal soldiers] are forbidden to trespass upon the orchards, gardens or private grounds of any citizen of Memphis without express written authority [of Major General Grant].” Colonel Joseph Webster was appointed Commander of the Post of Memphis; Colonel Slack was ordered to take his force “to the east of Memphis and encamp with his Garrison of Memphis there.” Colonel William S. Hillyer (ADC to MGen Grant) was assigned as Provost Marshal General for the District of Memphis.

“All the troops in Memphis not belonging to Colonel Slack's command (i.e. Wallace's old Third Division, now under command of BGen Alvin Hovey) are directed to immediately go into camp outside of the City on the line of the railroad to Grenada Mississippi; they will picket all the roads leading into Memphis from the southeast...”

With basic security and adequate defences in place (and relations with local citizens ameliorated) Major General Grant could kick back and enjoy welcome break from the routine of “Second-in-command of Halleck's Approach to Corinth.”

 

References:

Papers of U.S. Grant vol.5 pages 150 – 153; and page 130.

Note: In a Letter to wife, Julia dated 24 May 1862 and sent from north of Corinth, Major General Grant wrote: "I have written to you to join me whenever you hear of my being on the Mississippi River."  

 

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Aftermath

 

The day before the Memphis & Charleston line between Memphis and Corinth was scheduled to re-open, a Confederate cavalry raiding party ambushed an eastbound train at La Fayette Station, derailed the cars, killed many Union soldiers (most of whom belonged to the 56th Ohio) and took the Colonel of that regiment prisoner. Federal survivors stumbled into Sherman's HQ at La Grange on foot, and revealed their story. It was the beginning of frequent destructive raids and deadly attacks against the M & C R.R. that left the line so crippled, and nearly impossible to keep in operation with so much damaged track and burned rolling stock, that the Stations at Grand Junction and La Grange were ultimately abandoned by Federal forces; and rail traffic from Memphis to Corinth subsequently re-routed via a triangular route that included Humboldt Tennessee at its northern apex. This disruption to the M & C R.R persisted through December 1862, when General Forrest launched a campaign against the triangular route, slowing trains to a crawl (in order to avoid sabotaged lengths of track) and culminated in the capture of Union City (just north of Humboldt)  before Christmas; and the Federal rail supply base at Columbus Kentucky was cut off from both Memphis and Corinth, and Corinth was on the verge of being isolated [OR 17 part 1 page 567.]

On 2 July 1862 MGen Halleck sent the following telegram to President Lincoln:

https://www.loc.gov/resource/mal.1674800/?sp=1&r=0.037,0.28,0.837,0.322,0 [ Halleck comm of 2 July 1862 to President Lincoln, attempting to explain the deteriorating situation east of Memphis...]

Chaplain Thomas Van Horne in his authorized bio of General George Thomas aptly describes this period of “Halleck's delusion” on pg.129 of “History of the Army of the Cumberland.”

The “good news” anticipated from McClellan before Richmond... failed to arrive. The Seven Day's Battles brought McClellan's operation to a halt by 4 July 1862; and his Army subsequently was withdrawn from the Peninsula. [See note at top pg.188 Papers USG v.5 for “M.Jeff. Thompson celebrates CSA victory over McClellan...” ]

Morgan's Raid of early July 1862 acted as signal gun for a renewed Confederate offensive in the West under Braxton Bragg: the “ghost Army” reported disintegrating by General John Pope in June 1862 had resurrected itself and went on the offensive in August.

And as the Summer advanced, there was potential of much worse news for Federal forces in the West...

 

It was mentioned in an earlier post that this writer believes Lew Wallace suffered a nervous breakdown, culminating in his departure from Memphis. These are the reasons for that assertion:

  • Lew Wallace had criticized Henry Halleck for the slow crawl to Corinth while that operation was ongoing (his criticism was reported to Halleck, Wallace KNEW he had been informed upon, and such loose talk is not good for one's career) [see Autobiography pp.579 – 580.]

  • General Wallace believed he was right in going to Memphis; everyone else believed he was wrong to have abandoned railroad repairs to “defend” against a phantom Rebel raid.

  • General Wallace appears to have been unaware of the growing storm of indignation as regards his occupation of Memphis... until the storm broke.

  • Major General Grant (now directly in command of Wallace and his Third Division) appears to have unloaded a full dossier of missteps, mistakes, disobeyed orders... and laid them in Lew Wallace's lap. It is unknown HOW this expose of shortcomings was revealed – calmly and assertively, or aggressively with spit and venom – but the volume of material weighed in the balance, with nothing to show on the other side of the scales (no obvious attack against Memphis): this must have been enough to convince General Wallace he had made an error in judgment; and he wanted a way out, or a means to prove the correctness of his actions... but there was no way. The realization likely hit hard, and is alluded to in Wallace's Autobiography, page 589: “Every life has its ups and downs... Now, suddenly, somebody in the dark gave me a push, and I fell, and fell so far that I could almost see bottom...” Lew Wallace papers over this confrontation with General Grant, and suggests HE (Wallace) requested leave in order to take care of personal business in Indiana. U.S. Grant in his own Memoirs pages 320 – 324 makes NO mention of Lew Wallace in Memphis, or their confrontation. Instead, General Grant fills that space with tales of minor irritation from the citizens of Memphis; and relates in detail a story of “how he almost got captured by a guerrilla band during his ride from Corinth to Memphis” (...which should not have even been possible, with “no Rebels within coo-ee of Memphis.”)

[Note: the evaluation of “what happened to Lew Wallace” is informed speculation, based on the period reports of William T. Sherman, John A. McClernand, Henry Halleck and Ulysses Grant. There was an obvious fixation by Halleck's command on railroads; any interest in war-fighting was downplayed as unnecessary (following the occupation of Corinth). And in the end, Lew Wallace departed Memphis, supposedly for “business reasons.”]

Additional References:

OR 17 (pt.1) pp.10 - 20.

OR 17 (pt.2) pp.28 - 34 and 36 - 41.

 

 

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