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[454] in several places, could not be put in order for two or three weeks, perhaps, and large parties of the enemy's cavalry were scouring the country, ready to renew their destruction in proportion as the damages were repaired.

Grant's position, therefore, had become untenable. It was necessary for him to fall back rapidly in order to reopen communications either with Memphis or Pittsburg Landing, or to boldly push forward, and either to fight or to avoid Pemberton. In the latter contingency, he would have had to descend the Yazoo, subsisting upon the country, until he could communicate with the Mississippi fleet and Sherman, whose troops must have been in the neighborhood of Vicksburg. This course was full of dangers and uncertainties. The resources of the country through which he would have to pass were unknown, nor was he sure that Sherman would be found in the vicinity of Vicksburg; in short, winter had come, and the first rain, by breaking up the roads, might doom the army to a disastrous immobility or to the loss of its entire convoy. Grant was afraid of risking such an experiment. He said afterward that if he had known then, what he subsequently learned from experience, that the country was rich enough to feed an army of thirty thousand men on its passage through, he would certainly have undertaken that movement, and, in all probability, captured Vicksburg at that time. However that may be, his resolution was promptly taken, and on the 21st he recrossed the Tallahatchie. His communications with the North were all interrupted, and necessity compelled him to adopt measures of an entirely new character in order to subsist his troops. He was thus led to resort to the system of requisitions, to which he had been unwilling to trust for a forward march, but which he was glad afterward to have tested. The country through which his army was about to pass was carefully explored, and all that could be found of meat, grain, food of every description and forage, was taken for the use of the army, and paid for in bonds. It was the first time that the Federals had applied this system, always legitimate in war, on a large scale, so much did their regular armies desire to be lenient in their treatment of the conquered country, despite all that their adversaries may have said to the contrary. Thanks to this mode of

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T. W. Sherman (2)
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