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[181] true that these soldiers added rather to the numbers than to the strength of Beauregard's army. Finally, toward the 2d or 3d of May, the latter was joined by Lovell, with the greater portion of the garrison of New Orleans; this general atoned for the humiliation of his recent defeat by the promptness with which he joined the Confederate army of the West.

The paramount duty of this army, since it had lost Kentucky and the larger portion of Tennessee, was to retain possession of the two great arteries which meet at right angles at Memphis, and which were of the greatest importance to the Southern States: viz., the course of the Mississippi as far as Vicksburg, and that section of the Charleston Railroad which extends to Chattanooga. Fortunately for them, of the two lines the river way was at once the principal and the easier to defend.

If the railway alone was lost, there was nothing to prevent the substitution of the Vicksburg, Mobile and Montgomery branches for the direct line. It was necessary to be prepared for this; for from Corinth to Chattanooga this direct line, nearly parallel to the course of the Tennessee, and running alternately on one or the other side of the river, described a large arc, the flank of which was constantly exposed to the enemy. This line might possibly have been protected by occupying the flank of the Tennessee in force, at Eastport for instance, where it begins to follow the course of the river; the navigation of the Tennessee, the only way by which the Federals could reach the railroad, would thus have been closed against the enemy's gun-boats. But, on the one hand, the remembrance of Donelson inspired the Confederates with an exaggerated fear of these gun-boats, and caused them to neglect almost entirely the defence of their rivers; on the other hand, in order thus to cover their right, they would have been obliged to expose their left, rendering it practicable for their adversaries, who occupied impregnable positions at Pittsburg Landing, to come out and seize the grand junction, invest Memphis, and thus cut the railroad in a still more vital part. Corinth was the only point from which all the movements of the Federal army could be equally observed, whether it ascended the Tennessee or attempted to strike a blow at Memphis.

Besides, the occupation of the railroad by the enemy did not constitute

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