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[216] long in indemnifying themselves for this double reverse, by taking possession of the village of Port Hudson, a formidable position, which the Federals had neglected to occupy. Van Dorn saw that, instead of sacrificing his men by trying to capture Baton Rouge, he could secure the same result by fortifying any given point below the mouth of Red River, which, like Vicksburg, could check the progress of the Federal gun-boats. Port Hudson was admirably adapted for this purpose, and soon became an important stronghold. From that moment the Confederates were again sole masters of all that portion of the river comprised between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, for these two places flanked each other mutually; the great Red River line of communication for obtaining supplies was again open to them, and the two sections of the Confederacy, which had been temporarily separated, were again firmly united. The Mississippi, of which, in June, 1862, the Federals might probably have taken possession, was lost to them, owing to the absence of troops which Halleck had not had the foresight to detail in time for this important operation. From that day Vicksburg and Port Hudson became the two bastions before which, for a whole year, all the efforts of the Federal fleets and armies, seeking in vain to act in conjunction, were destined to fail.

But before returning to Virginia, where events were taking place, the influence of which was to be felt even in the Far West, we must retrace our steps to narrate operations, at once military and naval, of which a portion of the coast of the Confederate States had been the theatre during the early part of 1862.

We followed these operations upon the coast of North Carolina and in the Gulf of Mexico up to the spring, a period when they ceased entirely, partly in consequence of the new destination given to Burnside's army, which left Albemarle Sound for the borders of the James, and partly owing to the retreat into the interior of all the Confederate forces stationed on the coast of Louisiana. It remains for us to speak of the combined operations of the fleet called the South Atlantic squadron and of the army of T. W. Sherman, on the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida during the first six months of 1862.

In the preceding volume we gave an account of the battle

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