January 30, 1864
---Gen. Sherman has arrived at Vicksburg to take command of what is left of the Army of the Tennessee, and move against the remnant of the Confederate Army of Mississippi which is east of Jackson. Sherman has 20,000 men in Hurlbut’s XVI Corps and McPherson’s XVII Corps. Sherman has also consolidated the U.S. cavalry units in the area under the command of Gen. William Sooy Smith, who will take these 7,000 troopers south from Memphis to strike at Polk’s northern flank. Sherman has also ordered two regiments of black troops to move up the Yazoo to threaten the railroads, seize cotton, and destroy any property and war material that could possibly aid the Rebels—including interdicting guerilla activity in the Yazoo Delta area. Sherman’s orders include this: “If the enemy burns cotton we don’t care. It is their property and not ours, but so long as they have cotton, corn, horses, or anything, we will appropriate it or destroy it so long as the confederates in war act in violence to us and our lawful commerce. They must be active friends or enemies. They cannot be silent or neutral.”
---The Federals begin to assembly a new army under Gen. Benjamin Butler. The rumor is that the new force will head to Mobile, but Gen. Lee correctly surmises that this army is intended for a new campaign up the James river to threaten Richmond from the southeast.
---Pres. Lincoln writes to Gen. Frederick Steele, in command of Federal forces in Arkansas, concerning the upcoming Union elections in that state: “Possibly the best you can do would be to help them on their own plan. . . . Be firm and resolute against such as you can perceive would make confusion and division.”
---John Beauchamp Jones, a Confederate Ward Department clerk, writes in his journal about developments such as the new draft law, trading cotton with the Yankees, and his own high hopes for Confederate victory:
JANUARY 30TH.—The Senate has passed a new Conscription Act, putting all residents between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five in the military service for the war. Those over forty-five to be detailed by the President as commissary quartermasters, Nitre Bureau agents, provost guards, clerks, etc. This would make up the enormous number of 1,500,000 men! The express companies are to have no detail of men fit for the field, but the President may exempt a certain class for agricultural purposes, which, of course, can be revoked whenever a farmer refuses to sell at schedule prices, or engages in speculation or extortion. Thus the President becomes almost absolute, and the Confederacy a military nation. The House will pass it with some modifications. Already the Examiner denounces it, for it allows only one owner or editor to a paper, and just sufficient printers,—no assistant editors, no reporters, no clerks, etc. This will save us, and hasten a peace. . . .
Mr. Goodman, President of the Mississippi Railroad, proposes to send cotton to the Yankees in exchange for implements, etc., to repair the road, and Lieut.-Gen. (Bishop) Polk favors the scheme.
Commissary-General Northrop likewise sent in a proposal from an agent of his in Mississippi, to barter cotton with the Yankees for subsistence, and he indorses an approval on it. I trust we shall be independent this summer. . . .
I shall hope for better times now. We shall have men enough, if the Secretary and conscription officers do not strain the meshes of the seine too much, and the currency will be reduced. The speculators and extortioners, in great measure, will be circumvented, for the new conscription will take them from their occupations, and they will not find transportation for their wares.