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 After the battle of Murfreesboro, which closed in the first days of 1863, there was a cessation of active operations in that portion of Tennessee, and attention was concentrated upon the extensive preparations which were in progress for a campaign into Mississippi, with Vicksburg as the objective point. The plan, as it was developed, was for a combined movement by land and river, the former passing through the interior of Mississippi to approach Vicksburg in rear, the latter to descend the Mississippi River and attack the city in front. General Pemberton, with the main body of his command, held the position on the Tallahatchie and Yazoo rivers, and among the various devices to turn that position was one more ingenious than ingenuous. It was an offer to furnish, at prices lower than ruled in our markets, provisions of which we stood in need, to be sent through the Yazoo Pass and transported in boats through to the Yazoo River if we should desire. I had, some time before, directed that cypress rafts, as far as practicable, of sinking timber, should be thrown into the main channel leading down from the Yazoo Pass; I saw that, if it was not the purpose of the proposer, the effect of accepting the proposition would be to open a water line of approach from the Mississippi, below Memphis, then in the hands of the enemy, to the interior in rear of Vicksburg: for that reason, I resisted much importunity in favor of allowing the supplies to be brought in that manner. In the latter part of December General Sherman, having descended the Mississippi River, entered the Yazoo with four divisions of land troops and five gunboats, the object being to reduce our work at Haines's Bluff and turn Vicksburg so as to attack it in rear. The first point at which the range of hills extending from Vicksburg up the Yazoo approaches near to the river is at Haines's Bluff, some twenty miles by the course of the Yazoo from the Mississippi River. Here the troops were landed December 26th to attack the redoubts which had been built upon the bluff. On the 27th little progress was made. On the 28th the attempt by one division to approach the causeway north of the Chickasaw Bayou was repulsed with heavy loss. The troops were withdrawn and moved down the river to a point below the bayou, there to unite with the rest of the command. At daylight on the 29th the attack was resumed and continued throughout the most of the day; the enemy were again repulsed with heavy loss. On the next day there was firing on both sides without conclusive results. On the 31st General Sherman sent in a flag of truce to bury the dead.
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