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[82] annulled before it had been acted on.

Ship Island is one of quite a number of inconsiderable sand-bars which barely rise above the level of the Gulf between the months of the Mississippi and the Bay of Mobile. It is accounted 7 miles long by three-fourths of a mile in width, though its size, as well as its shape, is usually altered by each violent inland-driving storm. It has a good harbor at its western end, with groves of pine and stunted oak at the far east; while fresh water is obtained in plenty by sinking a barrel in the sand. Oysters and fish abound in the encircling waters; while the climate in Winter is soft, sunny, and tropical. New Orleans bears 65 miles W. S. W.; the mouth of Mobile Bay 50 miles E. N. E.; the mouths of the Mississippi from 90 to 110 S. S. W.; while Biloxi, on the Mississippi coast, is but 10 miles due north. Here Gen. Phelps and his brigade, having landed early in December, spent the Winter in very necessary drilling; the General having signalized his advent by issuing1 an elaborate proclamation to the loyal citizens of the Southwest, declaring Slavery incompatible with free institutions and free labor, and its overthrow the end and aim of our Government — a declaration most unlikely to increase the number of White loyal citizens at that time and in that quarter, while pretty certain to be carefully kept from the knowledge of most others. Its first result was a feeling of amazement and dissatisfaction among a part of Gen. Phelps's subordinates; while a single copy, taken to the Mississippi shore, and dispensed to the first comer, was there eagerly diffused and employed to arouse and embitter hostility to the Union.

Mobile had been generally guessed the object of Gen. Butler's mysterious expedition, whose destination was not absolutely fixed even in the councils of its authors. An effort to reannex Texas lad been considered, if not actually contemplated. It was finally decided, in a conference between Secretary Stanton and Gen. Butler, that a resolute attempt should be made on New Orleans; and though Gen. McClellan, when requested to give his opinion of the feasibility of the enterprise, reported that it could not be prudently undertaken with a less force than 50,000 men, while all that could be spared to Gen. Butler was 15,000, President Lincoln, after hearing all sides, gave judgment for the prosecution. A fortnight later, Gen. Butler went home to superintend the embarkation of the residue of his New England troops, 8,500 in number, 2,200 being already on ship-board, beside 2,000, under Phelps, at the Island. Three excellent Western regiments were finally spared him from Baltimore by Gen. McClellan. swelling his force on paper to 14,400 infantry, 580 artillery, 275 cavalry; total, 15,255 men, to which it was calculated that Key West might temporarily add two regiments, and Fort Pickens another, raising the aggregate to nearly 18,000. It in fact amounted, when collected at Ship Island, to 13,700.

Gen. Butler set out from Hampton Roads,2 in the steamship Mississippi, with his staff, his wife, and 1,400 men. The next night, the ship barely escaped wreck on a shoal off Hatteras Inlet; and the next day was

1 Dec. 4. 1861.

2 Feb. 25, 1862, 9 P. M.

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