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[626]

The double expedition had not accomplished the object proposed, for it had not seriously damaged the railroad at any point. It was undertaken without a sufficient number of troops, and, above all, without any of those accessories which are indispensable for a campaign of several days. Mitchell's bold and skilful management had been wanting. The troops returned to find their chief expiring. He died on the 30th of October, and was replaced by General Hunter, who had already preceded him in the command. The latter attempted no operation during the last two months of 1862, but confined himself to the task of preparing for the siege of Charleston, which he proposed to undertake in the spring of 1863.

We shall therefore pass from the Atlantic coast to that of the Gulf of Mexico, where we left the Federals after the conquest of New Orleans in the latter part of April, 1862. The capture of this great city, instead of setting Farragut's fleet free, and enabling it to sail again on the open sea, had drawn it toward a new field of operations. We have already given an account of the battles which the Federal admiral fought on the Mississippi waters during the summer. The task assigned during this time to the few vessels he had left in the Gulf of Mexico was confined to the maintenance of the strictest blockade of the ports which the Confederates still possessed in that sea. About the end of July, Farragut finally returned to New Orleans with a portion of his fleet, after his campaign against Vicksburg, and since then his duties had been divided between guarding the lower course of the Mississippi, watching the ports of Pensacola and Mobile, and the occupation of some important points along the coast of Texas.

He resolved to establish a strict blockade of this coast, which had long been neglected by the Federal fleet. It was a difficult task; for if it possesses but few ports accessible to large vessels, its configuration is excellently adapted for a smuggling coastingtrade. In fact, with the exception of a small interval near the mouth of the river Brazos, it is bounded from the Bay of Galveston at the north to the Mexican frontier, at the south by a long sand-bar similar to that which the Atlantic has raised around North Carolina. This narrow dike is divided by channels into a

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