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[70] pursue, namely, to send all available force to assist in the capture of Vicksburg and the opening of the Mississippi to the gulf. After that I could easily operate from points on the Mississippi as a base, capture Little Rock and the line of the Arkansas, and then make that river the base of future operations.

Hence, in response to a request from General Halleck, I at once sent to General Grant and other commanders at the front all the troops I could possibly spare, saying at the same time that this would leave me very weak, but that I was ‘willing to risk it in view of the vast importance of Grant's success.’

Thus I began my military operations by stripping the department of troops to the lowest possible defensive limit. But this was what I had so earnestly urged before, when in a subordinate position; and I was glad to do it when the responsibility rested upon me. My loan of troops to Grant was returned with interest as soon as practicable after Vicksburg had fallen, and I was then able to advance a large force, under General Steele, for the capture of Little Rock, resulting in holding the entire line of the Arkansas River from that time forward.

At that time I had met General Grant but once, and then for only a moment, and I have always assumed that the timely aid sent him at Vicksburg was the foundation for the kind and generous friendship and confidence which he ever afterward manifested toward me, and which, with the like manifestations of approval from President Lincoln, are to me the most cherished recollections of my official career.

The appreciation of my action in Washington was expressed by General Halleck in a letter dated July 7, 1863, in which he said: ‘The promptness with which you sent troops to General Grant gave great satisfaction here’; and by the President himself, in a letter to ‘the Hon. Charles D. Drake and others, committee,’ dated October

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