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[186] Nashville Railroad at Stevenson, and having seized five engines, had pushed as far as the borders of the Tennessee and the environs of Chattanooga. But he was indebted for these easy conquests to the extreme confusion into which the Confederate army had been thrown by the battle of Shiloh, and they were too extended to admit of his defending them for any length of time. In fact, Beauregard had scarcely re-entered Corinth when he hastened to send detachments of cavalry to dispute the possession of the railroad, and Halleck, finding himself unable to reinforce him, was obliged to abandon the whole railway line situated on the left bank of the Tennessee. On the 24th of April, he evacuated Tuscumbia and Decatur, and on the 26th burnt the bridge situated near the latter town. Protected on this side by the waters of the river, he placed a strong garrison in Huntsville, and proceeded to the north-east with his forces to seize Chattanooga, which was already considered a position of great importance; he intended at the same time to protect his communications, which were maintained by the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and which parties of the enemy were menacing between Shelbyville and Stevenson, a point where this line connects with that of the Memphis and Charleston. On the 30th of April, he took possession at Bridgeport, near Stevenson, of the bridge, through which the two tracks, now consolidated into one, cross over to the left side of the Tennessee. It was an excellent position for beginning an offensive campaign, and a few reinforcements, detached from the grand army which was then at Pittsburg Landing, might probably have enabled him to strike some decisive blows. At the head of the cavalry, which Halleck kept inactive before Corinth, he could have crossed the Tennessee at Gunter's Landing, the southernmost point of its course, and reached Gadsden, a magazine of considerable importance, situated on the banks of the Coosa, a large river which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, only sixty-five kilometres from that place. He might even have pushed one hundred and thirty kilometres beyond that point, so as to reach Rome, where was one of the principal cannon-foundries of the Confederacy; a few kilometres farther on, he would have reached the great artery of the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, which he could have rendered unserviceable for a long time. But Mitchell, deprived of all reinforcements,

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