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[288] several millions' worth of property sacrificed, but the fair promise of an important expedition utterly blighted. By the loss of his stores and trains, Grant was completely paralyzed, and compelled to fall back to Grand Junction: thence moving westward to Memphis, so as to descend by the river to Vicksburg.

Gens. A. P. Hovey and C. C. Washburne, with some 3,000 men, had crossed1 the Mississippi from Helena simultaneously with Grant's advance; taking post near the head of Yazoo Pass, capturing a Rebel camp, and moving down the Coldwater and Tallahatchie rivers, with intent to reenforce Grant; but this was now frustrated, and their force recalled to the Mississippi.

The day after the Holly Springs disaster, Gen. W. T. Sherman had left Memphis with the Right Wing of the Army of the Tennessee --some 30,000 strong — on boats which passed down the Mississippi and 12 miles up the Yazoo to Johnston's Landing, where the troops were debarked,2 and a general assault was made next day on the well-manned fortifications and batteries which defended Vicksburg on the north. The ground between the Yazoo and the precipitous bluffs whereon the Rebels were fortified, is agreeably (to alligators) diversified by “swamps,” “sloughs,” “lagoons,” and “bayous;” and is in the main a profound mire, resting on quicksand. “Chickasaw Bayou,” connecting the two rivers, is its most salient feature; but much of it had been a cedar swamp, or boggy thicket, whereof so much as lay directly in front of the Rebel defenses had been transformed into abatis, covering rifle-pits, Unknown to Sherman, Grant's recoil from Oxford had liberated the Rebel army previously confronting him; which had forthwith been apprised3 of the cloud gathering on the Mississippi. Gen. Pemberton, who was in chief command at Grenada, had at once faced about; and, three days later, having definite advices that Sherman's gunboats had reached the mouth of the Yazoo, he began to send his men southward by rail; following himself next day. Thus, expeditious as were Sherman's movements, most of the Rebel forces in all that region, except Van Dorn and his cavalry, were on hand to resist him.

Sherman's army was uniquely Western; and, with the West, the reopening of the Mississippi was an absorbing passion. It was brave, well officered, and ably commanded; while Com. Porter's gunboats were ready to render it every assistance that gunboats could; it encountered none of those unforeseen, fortuitous mischances, against which even Genius is impotent, and Valor fruitless; it fought superbly, and piled the earth with its dead and wounded; yet it failed, simply because such defenses as it was required to assail are, when fairly armed and manned, absolutely impregnable to simple assault. They may be overcome by regular approaches; they may be mastered by the surprise of some unguarded but vital point; they must yield at last to famine, if closely and persistently invested; but to hurl column after column of infantry upon them is simple, useless slaughter.

1 Nov. 20.

2 Dec. 26.

3 Dec. 21.

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