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[207] flanks and upon his base of operations. But we shall have occasion a little later to speak of the expeditions of Forrest and Morgan, as also of the campaign to which they were the fortunate prelude; we must, for the present, leave Bragg and Buell fronting each other, and return to the banks of the Mississippi.

Farragut, as we have stated, had rapidly ascended this river, and witnessed the unresisting submission of all the towns lying along its course as far as Vicksburg, the fortifications of which had stopped the progress of his vessels on the 18th of May, 1862. Situated at an almost equal distance from Memphis and New Orleans, this little town stands upon a point where the left bank of the river commands its course, and forms one of those high banks called bluffs. It is connected with the great Memphis and New Orleans railway, the Mississippi Central, by a branch which strikes this line at Jackson, the capital of the State. But its peculiar importance was derived from the fact that on the opposite bank lies the head of a railway running into the State of Arkansas. Vicksburg, therefore, was the bond between the western part of the Confederacy and the other slave States. Although the latter branch, pompously called the Vicksburg and Texas Railroad, did not run beyond the little town of Monroe, it greatly facilitated the importation of the agricultural products of the Western States, which from that time was a question of capital importance to the rest of the Confederacy.

Before the capture of Memphis and Baton Rouge, two great fluvial lines conveyed these products into the waters of the Mississippi, which they ascended or descended afterward to the central depot at Vicksburg. These were the Arkansas, which, after its junction with White River, empties into the great river between Memphis and Vicksburg, and the Red River, which runs into it between the latter city and New Orleans. But in June, 1862, the Federal gun-boats had reduced the navigation of these rivers to a mere contraband traffic. After the battle of Memphis, Davis, having assembled all the vessels he had left in the upper part of the river, despatched four steamers, the Mound City, the St. Louis, the Lexington and the Conestoga, with several transports, to reconnoitre the waters of the Arkansas and White River. The Federal fleet ascended the latter river for a distance of one hundred

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