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[179]

Chapter 7: military operations in Missouri, New Mexico, and Eastern Kentucky--capture of Fort Henry.


Foward the close of the autumn of 1861, the attitude of the contending parties, civil and military, in the great basin of the central Mississippi Valley was exceedingly interesting. We left the National army in Southern Missouri, at the middle of November, dispirited by the removal of their favorite leader, slowly making their way toward St. Louis under their temporary commander, General Hunter, while the energetic Confederate leader, General Price, was advancing, and reoccupying the region which the Nationals abandoned.1 We left Southern Kentucky, from the mountains to the Mississippi River, in possession of the Confederates. Polk was holding the western portion, with his Headquarters at Columbus; General Buckner, with a strongly intrenched camp at Bowling Green, was holding the center; and Generals Zollicoffer and Marshall and others were keeping watch and ward on its mountain flanks. Back of these, and between them and the region where the rebellion had no serious opposition, was Tennessee, firmly held by the Confederates, excepting in its mountain region, where the most determined loyalty still prevailed.

On the 9th of November, 1861, General Henry Wager Halleck, who had been called from California by the President to take an active part in the war, was appointed to the command of the new Department of Missouri.2 He had arrived in Washington on the 5th,

Nov., 1861.
and on the 19th took the command, with Brigadier-General George W. Cullum, an eminent engineer officer, as his chief of staff, and Brigadier-General Schuyler Hamilton as assistant chief. Both officers had been on the staff of General Scott. The Headquarters were at St. Louis. General Hunter, whom Halleck superseded, was assigned to the command of the Department of Kansas.3 General Don Carlos Buell had superseded General Sherman, and was appointed commander of the Department of the Ohio;4 and the Department of Mexico, which included only the territory of New Mexico, was intrusted to Colonel E. R. S. Canby. Such was the arrangement of the military divisions of the territory westward of the Alleghanies late in 1861. [180]

General Halleck was then in the prime of life, and he entered upon his duties with zeal and vigor. He was possessed of large mental and physical energy, and much was expected of him. He carefully considered the plan arranged by, Fremont for clearing the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas of armed insurgents, and securing the navigation of the Mississippi by sweeping its banks of obstructions, from Cairo to New Orleans.5 Approving of it in general, he pushed on the great enterprise with strong hopes of success.

Henry Wager Halleck.

Halleck's first care was to establish the most perfect discipline in his army, to overawe the secessionists, and to relieve the loyal people of Missouri of the effects of the dreadful tyranny inflicted by the latter, many of whom were engaged in armed bands in plundering the inhabitants, desolating the property of Union men, and destroying railways and bridges. Refugees were then crowding into the Union lines by thousands. Their miseries cannot be described. Men, women, and children were stripped, plundered, and made homeless. Naked and starving, they sought refuge and relief in

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