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Chapter 3: the far West.

ALL that remains to us now to bring the year 1863 to a close is to speak of the battles that took place during the latter part of this year in the vast regions extending west of the Mississippi. We have already stated that after the fruitless efforts of Johnston, Holmes, and Taylor to release Vicksburg and Port Hudson, every struggle ceased in the valley of the great river. Its waters are travelled over with impunity by the Federal vessels; the Southern forces that had hastened to its banks have withdrawn into the interior, and the Northern soldiers, enjoying a well-deserved rest, have not yet undertaken to pursue them; Grant would like to have shortened this intermission and used the powerful army united under his command to carry war to the very heart of the rebel States by taking Mobile and making this port the base of operations of a new campaign. Banks shares his views, and Grant has therefore hastened to send him, in the early part of August, according to orders received from Washington, the most movable portion of the Thirteenth corps—say about twelve thousand men—under the command of General Ord. He hopes to overcome the opposition of General Halleck, who, as we have seen, thinks of nothing but parcelling out his army to have it undertake at the one time several minor expeditions. But soon certain political considerations interfere with the execution of the great plan he had projected. On the 6th of August the Federal Government, at the request of the Secretary of State, decides that all the available forces stationed at New Orleans shall move upon Texas. Owing to motives independent of military questions, say the official despatches, and which cannot be discussed, the Federal flag must be raised on the soil of that State.

The interference of the Secretary of State can easily be explained.

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