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[269] is vastly important, and I beg you to put your soul in the effort. I send a copy of this to Buell.

This telegram abundantly shows with what minute understanding and accurate judgment the President comprehended military conditions and results in the West. Buell, however, was too intent upon his own separate movement to seize the brilliant opportunity offered him. As he only in a feeble advance followed up the retreating Confederate column from Bowling Green to Nashville, Halleck naturally appropriated to himself the merit of the campaign, and telegraphed to Washington on the day after the surrender:

Make Buell, Grant, and Pope major-generals of volunteers, and give me command in the West. I ask this in return for Forts Henry and Donelson.

The eagerness of General Halleck for superior command in the West was, to say the least, very pardonable. A vast horizon of possibilities was opening up to his view. Two other campaigns under his direction were exciting his liveliest hopes. Late in December he had collected an army of ten thousand at the railroad terminus at Rolla, Missouri, under command of Brigadier-General Curtis, for the purpose of scattering the rebel forces under General Price at Springfield, or driving them out of the State. Despite the hard winter weather, Halleck urged on the movement with almost peremptory orders, and Curtis executed the intentions of his chief with such alacrity that Price was forced into a rapid and damaging retreat from Springfield toward Arkansas. While forcing this enterprise in the southwest, Halleck had also determined on an important campaign in southeast Missouri.

Next to Columbus, which the enemy evacuated on March 2, the strongest Confederate fortifications on

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