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[334]

Gen. Banks's position was far from enviable. His small army — now scarcely numbering 12,000 effective men — was isolated in a thinly settled, partially devastated,exhausted, and intensely hostile region. It was largely composed of nine-months men, whose terms of service had expired or would soon expire, whose hearts yearned toward loved ones far away, and who decidedly preferred a sure prospect of going home to their chance (if shot) of going to heaven. There were some 2,500 Rebel cavalry in close proximity to his rear, in addition to the garrison of 6,000 or over in his front; his necessary concentration for this siege had left nearly all Louisiana open to Dick Taylor, who would inevitably retrace his steps across the country out of which he had so lately been driven, capturing and conscripting by the way; and he might, very possibly,

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