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Patrolling the river To split the Confederacy apart was the Federal aim in the fall of 1862. It was necessary to the possession and command of the great waterway of the Mississippi that a constant patrol should be established after it was opened, and for this purpose, aside from the heavily armored gunboats, there was maintained a fleet of light-draught stern-and side-wheel vessels. This vessel (pictured by the Southern photographer Lytle) is No. 8 of the lightly armored “tin-clads.” It was by means of these vessels of light draught that the shallow tributaries could be used as highways for the transportation of troops and supplies. The fleet or flotilla was at first really a division of the army. The crews were a miscellaneous lot of artillerymen and drafts made up from regiments in the service along the river. The early organization caused great confusion. In numerous cases naval officers in command of vessels were given military rank. Captain Foote found that he ranked only as a colonel, and that every brigadier could interfere with him. In November, 1861, he received the appointment of flag-officer that gave him the same rank as a major-general, and put him above the orders of any except the commander of the department; still he commanded soldiers, and it was not until late in the year of 1861 that any trained naval men of the rank and file were placed on the river gunboats.

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William H. Lytle (2)
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