start a powder factory at Meridian
, a point he considered, and rightly so, safe from Federal intrusion, and one which, in fact, was held by the Confederates
until the end of the war.
The need of metal for the casting of field-guns was already a subject of most serious consideration for our leaders.
The guns the Confederacy
had, in the field and elsewhere, were inadequate, and that more were required was evident to all. So lacking in enterprise and forethought, in that respect, had the government shown itself, that no reliance could be placed upon it to improve the situation.
The people, not the government, were the source from which alone assistance could be had. Deeply convinced of this truth, General Beauregard
issued an appeal to the good citizens of the Mississippi Valley
, asking them to yield up their plantation bells, that more cannon might be made for the defence of their homes.
They responded with alacrity to his call; and, so great was the enthusiasm pervading all classes of the population, that even religious congregations gave up their church-bells, while women offered their brass candlesticks and andirons.
By the 8th of March, the busy preparations of the enemy at Fort Henry
, up the Tennessee River
, indicated an early offensive movement, to meet which the greatest activity on our part was necessary.
On the 13th, five Federal divisions arrived at Savannah
, twelve miles below Pittsburg Landing
, and on the opposite side of the river, followed, a few days later, by a reinforcement of some five thousand men. These troops, numbering now about forty thousand infantry, and three thousand artillery and cavalry, were commanded by Major-General C. F. Smith
, a gallant and accomplished officer.1 General Grant
, who, for a time after the capture of Fort Donelson
, had been virtually suspended by General Halleck
, for an alleged disobedience of orders, arrived on the 17th, and resumed command.
Meanwhile, on the 14th, General Sherman
's division, which had not been landed at Savannah
, was detached up the river, under the protection of two gunboats, to destroy the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, near Eastport
and Chickasaw Bluff, but evinced such extreme caution that he was deterred from landing by two companies of infantry, acting as artillery, with two 24-pounders.
These companies belonged to a