Fremont on Paducah
- I should also comment on excerpts from Fremont's article in B&L:
He wrote: "August 25th an expedition was ordered under Colonel G.
Wagner [sic] with one regiment, accompanied by Commander John
Rodgers with two gun-boats, to destroy the enemy's fortifications
that were being constructed at Belmont." [The ORs indicate that it
He continued: "August 28th I assigned Brigadier-General U. S. Grant
to the command of South-east Missouri, with headquarters at Cairo.
He was fully instructed concerning the actual and intended movements
on the Mississippi and the more immediate movements upon the
Kentucky shore, together with the intention to hold the mouths of
the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. In his written instructions
General Grant was directed to act in concert with Commander Rodgers
and Colonel Wagner, and to take possession of points threatened by
the Confederates on the Missouri and Kentucky shores." [Here are
orders to take Paducah, although it may or may not have been
mentioned by name in communications. The phrase, "the mouths of the
Tennessee and . . ." makes it clear that Paducah was an object of
He wrote: "September 4th I sent heavy guns and an artillery officer
to Cairo, where General Grant had just arrived from Girardeau. I
telegraphed the President informing him that the enemy was beginning
to occupy, on the Kentucky shore, every good point between Paducah
and Hickman, and that Paducah should be occupied by us. I asked him
now to include Kentucky in my command." [Further confirmation that
Fremont wanted Paducah taken, if this wasn't already evident.]
He wrote: "September 5th I sent to General Grant a letter of
instruction, in which I required him to push forward with the utmost
speed all work on the point selected on the Kentucky shore ten miles
from Paducah, to be called Fort Holt. In this letter I directed him
to take possession of Paducah if he felt strong enough to do so; but
if not, then to plant a battery opposite Paducah on the Illionis
side to command the Ohio River and the mouth of the Tennessee. On
the evening of the day on which this letter was sent to General
Grant, the officer who had been sent by me within the Confederate
lines reached Cairo on his way to St. Louis to let me know that the
enemy was advancing on Paducah. He judged it right to inform General
Grant, urging him to take Paducah without delay. General Grant
decided to do so, and in accordance with his instructions of the
28th immediately moved on Paducah with an adequate force and two gun-
boats. He reached the town on the morning of the 6th, having only
about six hours' advance of the enemy. Taking undisputed possession,
he returned to Cairo the same day." [Not only was Grant directed to
occupy Paducah by Fremont, he was urged to do it by De Arnaud.
Grant's memoirs omit mention of such persuasion: "The day after I
assumed command at Cairo a man came to me who said he was a scout of
General Fremont. He reported that he had just come from Columbus, a
point on the Mississippi twenty miles below on the Kentucky side,
and that troops had started from there, or were about to start, to
seize Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee."]
Lastly, Grant's Memoirs display further faulty information. He
described two telegrams which he had sent to Fremont: "There was no
time for delay; I reported by telegraph to the department commander
the information I had received, and added that I was taking steps to
get off that night to be in advance of the enemy in securing that
important point. . . . Not having received an answer to my first
dispatch, I again telegraphed to department headquarters that I
should start for Paducah that night unless I received further
orders." Unfortunately, one such telegram of Grant's dated 9/5/61
to Fremont read in full: "On information telegraphed you, brought by
Charles de Arnaud I am getting ready to go to Paducah. Will start
at 6 1/2 o'clock" [PUSG 2:193] It fits the description of neither
telegram mentioned in the memoirs; there is nothing about "taking
steps to get off that night to be in advance of the enemy" nor about
doing so "unless I received further orders."
This is the crux of the matter: Grant's Memoirs are unreliable.
They certainly are an insufficient foundation upon which to give him
credit for taking Paducah without orders.
- I found it. OR Vol 7 Pg 571 McCellan to Halleck and Buell " A deserter just
in from the rebels, says that .... he heard officers say that Beauregaed was
under orders to go to
Kentucky with fifteen regiments from the Army of the Potomac.(Jan.29, 1862).
Halleck replied on Jan 30. "Your telegraph regarding Beauregard is received.
General Grant and Commodore Foote will be ordered to immediately advance, and
to reduce and hold Fort Henry, on the Tennessee river.
I remain, Sir, your most humble servant.