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The enemy and the Mississippi river.

--The pressure of Northwestern sentiment upon the Federal Government is all-powerful; and its endeavors to meet the demands of that important region are commensurate with the mighty interests at hazard. The protection of the Federal capital itself becomes of minor importance compared with the opening of the natural channel of commerce to that pent up empire. Now that the South is lost, the grain growing Northwest has become to the manufacturing and ship owning East, the source of food, employment, and profit. It is to furnish the heavy bulk of exportations. It is to present the market for merchandize and manufactures. It is to supply freights for the shipping; and it teems with the population which is to give travel to their railroads, business to their cities, and life and enterprise to everything. More than all this to the men in authority, the Northwest holds the preponderating vote in the Yankee Union, and can make and unmake President, Secretaries and Generals. McClellan himself was its own man, before whose rising star, Scott and McDowell warned into obscurity.

The Northwest is no longer the great giant she is vaunted, if the Mississippi is taken away from her. She is then thrown upon the Lakes and the St. Lawrence, half the former and all the latter British, for her water access to the seas. Besides this channel of exit, she must depend upon great lines of Yankee railroads; and, if the railroad itself be the farmer's curse, what must be the Yankee railroad, with more freight offering than it can transport? The taxation that must result to the pecuniary interests of the Northwest from closing the Mississippi, would affect it like the spear driven into the breast of the ancient Cavalier and broken off — he might bear himself still bravely through the battle, but when the excitement was over and exhaustion came on, death would then claim its victim. No agriculture can thrive in the midst of a vast continent pent up on all sides; and the Northwest must cease to be great and prosperous when she loses the channel of the Mississippi.

Impressed with these views, the Federal Government are making herculean efforts to get possession of the valley of the Mississippi. The key to this war is not the Potomac, nor the Virginia peninsula, nor the sea islands skirting the coasts of Carolina and Georgia. Whatever losses may be suffered by one party or the other in these quarters will possess only local importance, and effect nothing in deciding the great question of the war. The heart of the North is in the West. Thence come its armies, there it has all at stake, and there lies all its weakness. More profoundly impressed with the force of these considerations than we can be, its preparations are commensurate with the magnitude of the interests at stake. Its army of a hundred and twenty thousand men, under Buell, south of Louisville; its grand flotilla of shell- proof vessels, rafts, and flats collecting at Cairo, with land forces in proportion for a descent of the Mississippi; are but a part of the grand programme. They are making an equally vigorous demonstration from the South. The rendezvous of ships and troops at Ship Island are part of the grand combination; and if news does not speedily reach us by telegraph of its taking some other destination, the inference will be strong that Burnside's expedition is intended also for operations against New Orleans. Whether it be from the direction of Ship Island and the Pearl river, in conjunction with Butler; or from some point west of the Balize, in co-operation with Butler's movement from the east, must be solved in the sequel.

It would be a stupid affectation to despise these formidable demonstrations of the enemy against the Mississippi River; and yet is would be weak to indulge anything more than a prudent apprehension on the subject. Our preparations to meet the enemy may not be as complete as desirable; but we have seen enough in this war to demonstrate anew that the battle is not to the strong, and that fortune waits upon the brave. It is no part of our purpose to discuss our own side of the imposing programme of the Mississippi. Suffice to say that the campaign preparing on either side, in this vital quarter, are to exert a more decisive influence upon the fortunes of this war than any that have yet marked its progress.

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