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[446] Grant's place, McClernand had asked the President to redeem his pledge by placing him at the head of some expedition on the Mississippi. Warned by the example of what had taken place a few months before, Halleck opposed this fatal dismemberment of the armies of the West, but only succeeded in obtaining a postponement. The reinforcements intended for Grant, instead of reaching the quarters of that general, were assembled at Memphis for the purpose of being formed at a moment's notice into a corps independent of his authority, his own movement being even interrupted for a few days.

Finally, on the 12th of November, Grant was given permission, to quote the words in Halleck's despatch, ‘to fight the enemy wherever he should think proper,’ and he set off immediately. His principal object was to attack Pemberton, who must have had from thirty to forty thousand men under his command. He was well aware, in fact, that so long as this army remained intact he should not be able either to penetrate into the country, or even to approach Vicksburg with the least chance of success. If he advanced too far, he exposed his line of communications in his rear; if he embarked his army to descend the Mississippi as far as Vicksburg, he uncovered Memphis, Corinth and the whole of Tennessee. It was necessary, therefore, to find and fight Pemberton. The latter had two lines of defence, formed by two rivers, the Tallahatchie and the Yallabusha, which after their junction take the name of Yazoo, already familiar to us, both of which cross the Mississippi Central Railroad between Grand Junction and Grenada. Pemberton had fortified the banks of the Tallahatchie, and was within reach of that stream with the greater portion of his army.

Grant's army was divided into two separate commands; the two divisions from Corinth were under Hamilton, the other three divisions had been brought over from Boliver by McPherson. The latter had occupied Lamar with ten thousand men since the 8th of November; on the 13th, his vanguard was at Holly Springs, the first important station after Grand Junction. The Federal cavalry, both numerous and active, extended far and wide, and reached the banks of the Tallahatchie, toward which Grant was leading all his forces. He had then seventy-two thousand

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