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[286] repulsed the enemy from Vicksburg and occupied and defended Port Hudson, thus securing to the Confederacy for nearly a year free access to the Trans-Mississippi Department and the unobstructed navigation of Red River, by which vast supplies of meat and grain were contributed to the maintenance of our armies east of the great river, which already began to feel the want of good provisions.

General Beauregard having fallen into ill health, the supreme command of our army at Tupelo devolved upon General Bragg. In August, 1862, Bragg threw his main army by rail via Mobile, to Chattanooga, leaving Price in command of the ‘Army of the West,’ with orders to observe the Federal army at Corinth under Grant, with a view to oppose him in any movement down into Mississippi; or, in case Grant should move up into Tennessee to join Buell, then Price was to hinder him in that movement, and was also to move up into Tennessee and unite his forces with the army of Bragg. Van Dorn and Price were thus left independent of each other. Each commanded a corps of two strong divisions, both were in the State of Mississippi, and, as events proved, it might have been for the good of all had one of them been in supreme command over the whole military forces of that State.

Van Dorn, after placing Vicksburg and Port Hudson in satisfactory condition of defence, attacked the Federal forces in Baton Rouge. He sent General Breckenridge to conduct the expedition. It seems altogether probable that he would have captured the place and the enemy's army in it, but for the accidental loss of the iron-clad Arkansas, and the extraordinary epidemic of cholera, which reduced his force to one half its original numbers.

As soon as Van Dorn had refitted his forces after this attack, his ever-restless, aggressive spirit drew him up toward the northern line of the State, where Grant commanded a considerable force, occupying Corinth, Bolivar, and other points in West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and Alabama. Van Dorn having superior rank, but not having command over Price, sent Colonel Lindsey Lunsford Lomax early in September to urge upon Price that they should combine their forces and drive the Federals out of Mississippi and West Tennessee. At the time he made the proposition their combined forces would have amounted to about 25,000 infantry, with about 3,000 cavalry. Price replied that he could not comply with this request without departing from his instructions and the objects for which General Bragg had left him where he was. And just here were developed the bad consequences of having these two commanders

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