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[237] oblique course, steering for the Mississippi side of the river; and, in the gloom, it was soon confounded with the dark shadow of the trees beyond.

Before this boat was lost sight of, another succeeded, and to that another, and another, until, before midnight, the whole had gained the Mississippi side of the river, and were swallowed up in the dim obscurity. With breathless interest their transit was watched by all of those on the boats of the fleet, whose position, a little above the entrance of the first canal, brought the rough heights of Vicksburg within their sphere of vision, though the town lay, for the present, buried in the darkness, except where now and then the twinkling of a starry light was seen.

As the boats, with lights out and fires carefully hidden, floated past, indistinct as the ghosts of Ossian in the mountain mists, it was curious to note the effect upon the spectators. Before they appeared, the hum of conversation was heard all around. All were busy with speculations as to the probabilities of success. The desponding prognosticated unmitigated disaster. The hopeful indulged in confident speculations. All were contented to endure some loss, provided a sufficiency arrived at the destined point to accomplish the object contemplated.

As the various boats came slowly into view, stole past with noiseless motion, then vanished into the recesses of the shadowy shore, each voice was hushed; only in subdued and smothered tones were persons, at intervals, heard to ask a question or venture an observation. It seemed as if each one felt that his silence was due to the impressive scene; as if an indiscreet utterance on his

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