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[300] hysterics by an old coal-boat, fresh word was sent that they had been sold; but, ere this arrived, the Indianola had been blown to splinters — not even her priceless guns having been saved. The Webb now escaped up the Red river; leaving our supremacy on the Mississippi once more undisputed and unbroken.

Admiral Farragut, commanding below Vicksburg, having applied to Admiral Porter for iron-clads and rams to operate against certain small but formidable Rebel iron-clads and rams which held possession of Red river, the rams Switzerland, Col. Chas. R. Ellet, and Lancaster, Lt.-Col. John A. Ellet, were prepared for running the Vicksburg batteries; which they attempted1 to do; but with ill success. Instead of being started in due season, it was daylight when they came under the Rebel fire; whereby the Lancaster was sunk and the Switzerland badly cut up. The latter succeeded in passing. Of several frailer vessels, which from time to time made the venture, two or three were sunk; the residue mainly went by unscathed.

Months had now flitted since our earlier attempts on Vicksburg — months of fitful but costly effort to reduce that Rebel stronghold, which was only stronger and haughtier than ever. Gen. Grant--long since convinced that it could not be successfully assailed from above, unless we had full control of the Yazoo, for which he had so persistently but vainly struggled — now decided on an entirely new line of operations — turning Vicksburg on the south, and assailing her from the east rather than the west. It was in pursuance of this plan that he had so abruptly ordered a discontinuance of and withdrawal from the various expeditions looking to the control of the valley of the Yazoo, and the eapture or destruction of the thirty Rebel steamboats employed on that river or laid up near Yazoo City. All being at length prepared, and the Winter overflow of the Mississippi so far abated that the so-called roads of that region were no longer generally under water, but only beds of the profoundest and softest black mud. Gen. McClernand, with his (13th) corps, was impelled2 down the west bank of the great river to New Carthage; McPherson following directly with his (17th) corps; each moving no faster than it could be accompanied by its trains. The roads were so inconceivably bad that the advance was inevitably laborious and slow. The river-bank, being higher than the country back of it, the march was mainly along the levee; of course, under constant observation from the Rebel pickets and scouts across the river.

When our van was barely two miles from New Carthage, it was stopped by a break in the levee, through which the waters of the Mississippi were pouring out into the bayou Vidal, forbidding approach to the village, which was temporarily transformed into an island After boats had been collected to effect a crossing of the upper break, it was found that the process would not only be tedious but would have to be repeated below. Grant now decided to march around the bayou, avoiding New Carthage, and striking

1 Night of March 24-25.

2 March 29.

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