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[397] Mississippi being fortunately reserved to Grant, the ranking officer of the two. The possession of this territory secured the control of the two large rivers as far as Eastport on one side, and Memphis on the other; it was open to attacks from the south between these two towns. It was, therefore, the line from Eastport to Memphis that Grant had to protect; this line was too extended for the small number of troops he had under his command, and the railroad, which directly connected the two water-courses from Memphis to Florence, was too much exposed to sudden surprises to be of any service to him; but the disposition of the other railway lines running through his department afforded him a partial remedy for this inconvenience. In fact, the small town of Humboldt, situated in the centre of the parallelogram formed by the two rivers, was the point of intersection of the two lines coming from the north; after passing this point, one of them runs south-westward in the direction of Memphis, the other to the south-east toward Corinth. This last line again divides at Jackson, some distance from Humboldt, and its western branch runs almost due south to the Memphis and Florence Railway, which it intersects at Grand Junction. The latter point is at an equal distance from Memphis and Corinth. The most important water-course in this region is Hatchie River, which takes its rise near Ripley, in the State of Mississippi, and follows a northwesterly course until it discharges itself into the Mississippi above Fort Randolph. In consequence of the woody swamps which border its banks, it forms, from its very source, a serious obstacle. The most prominent points for crossing this stream are Crum's Mill, on the road from Holly Springs to Corinth, Davis' Mill, on the road from Memphis to Corinth, and, in the immediate vicinity of the latter point, the bridge of the Memphis and Charleston Railway, situated below the confluence of the Tuscumbia River, which runs from Corinth; and finally the viaduct of the line from Jackson to Grand Junction, near the village of Bolivar.

Abandoning Grand Junction, the Federals had posted themselves in the vicinity of this river; Sherman, with the six thousand men of his division, defended the upper course of the Mississippi at Memphis, through which he communicated with

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