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McPherson Letters


| West Point 1851 | San Francisco 1861 | Shiloh 1862 |
| Mississippi 1863 | Vicksburg 1863 | Nashville 1864 |


Grant made five failed attempts to reach Vicksburg by way of a safe water route. Because of McPherson's engineering skills, Grant assigned him the most promising of his canal efforts at Lake Providence, 75 miles north of Vicksburg. McPherson's canal was a complete success, but the Union's lack of boats to transport thousands of troops through the shallow swamps forced Grant to abandon the plan. In this letter McPherson also informed his mother that younger brother Russell still remained at Memphis. Earlier, while overseeing Tennessee's military railroads, McPherson appointed his trusted brother to the position of treasurer. McPherson also wrote of the photo he sent to his fiance, Emily Hoffman, whom he had not seen for 18 months. Emily continued to write McPherson weekly from San Francisco.

My Dear Mother,

Each day carries me farther from Home in point of distance but perhaps nearer to it in point of time, but wherever I may be my fondest recollections cluster around it and most gladly will I hail the day when I can bid good by to the tented field and run up and see you. I left Memphis last Sunday morning with Genl. Logan's Division, and reached here the next day about ten a.m. We are at present encamped on Lake Providence in northern La. about 18 miles south of the Arkansas line. The lake is a beautiful sheet of water and bordering on it are some of the finest plantations in the State. The ground, though not very elevated, is somewhat above the level of the surrounding country, and is not subject to overflow. This is a very important matter, as the water in the Miss River is very high, and should the Levie be cut or give way, might compel us in most places to return to our Boats. We have a very important expedition before us, the nature of which I cannot tell you now, though you shall know all about it some day. I sincerely hope it will succeed for the sake of the brave men under me. Russ was in Memphis when I left & very well. He is still the Treasr. of the U.S.M.R. Roads under Col. Webster. This is one of the most gloomy days I have seen in a long time. The rain has been falling in torrents since yesterday noon, with no prospect of its stopping. It never rains in the North as it does here, for there it comes down in drops but here it comes down in streams. It is very hard on the soldiers. Many of the tents are old and let the water through like a sieve. There is one consolation however, the rains will soon be over unless the season is very different from ordinary ones. Tell Grandma her letter reached me in due time and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for writing it. I sent the one enclosed to my darling Emy whom I hear from every week & sometimes oftener notwithstanding the great distances the letters have to come. My love to Grandma & all at Home.

Your affec son,

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