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[292] the sending of Rebel reenforcements to the vital point. the batteries carried, our whole army was to be hurried thither and solidly established on the bluff; thence taking all the remaining defenses in flank or in reverse, and fighting its way on equal terms along the heights into Vicksburg.

Steele's division and one brigade of M. L. Smith's were accordingly embarked; and Sherman, who had left them at midnight, had, by 4 A. M., every man at his post, listening for the sound of Porter's guns; but no sound came. At daybreak, a line from Steele apprised the General that the fog on the river had been so dense that the Admiral had been unable to move; so that the enterprise must be postponed to the next night. But, when the next night came, it was bright moonlight, rendering the proposed attack quite too hazardous; while each hour's delay must inevitably increase the sad probability that the enemy would divine, or at least suspect, what was meditated, and prepare to render the purposed assault more costly than that of the 29th. The swamp wherein our men were encamped would be drowned by the next heavy rain; there were already ominus rumors afloat, which every thing tended to confirm, that Grant had fallen back, leaving the Rebels free to concentrate 40,000 men at Vicksburg; there was no use in staying: so Sherman resolved to go; and, by sunrise next moreing,1 he had every thing on board, and was on the point of starting for Milliken's Bend; when he was apprised by Admiral Porter that an officer, his senior in rank, had arrived; to whom he accordingly turned over the command.

John A. McClernand, of Illinois,--a “political General,” according to the West Point classification — was the coming man. He had been for years a Democratic Representative in Congress of some note, but had hitherto won no distinction in the field. Having been dispatched from Memphis by Gen. Grant to Vicksburg, he, on his arrival, acquiesced in Sherman's decision to return to Milliken's Bend, where he formally assumed2 command, and at once addressed himself to the execution of a purpose which he had formed while on his way down the river.3 This was the reduction of Fort Hindman, otherwise known as The Post of Arkansas, 50 miles from the Mississippi; where a settlement had been made by the French in 1685, on the first high ground reached in ascending from the great river; eligibly situated in a fertile and productive, though swampy, region, and commanding the navigation of the important river whose name it bears. It had been fortified by the Confederates, having a parapet 18 feet across and a ditch 20 feet wide by 8 deep, with strong easemates, a banquette for infantry, and a cordon of ride-pits. But its guns were too few and light, and their powder inferior; so that Gen. T. J. Churchill, who commanded, had never a chance to held it, with his garrison of hardly 5,000,4 against the army that now advanced for its reduction--54 regiments in all — which, though doubtless sadly wasted by the bloody campaigns of 1862, must — to say nothing of the fleet — have numbered more than 20,000 men — probably

1 Jan. 2, 1863.

2 Jan. 4.

3 Dec. 30.

4 But 3,000 effectives, he reports.

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