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The possession of the Mississippi river--Vicksburg and Port Hudson

The Jackson correspondent of the Mobile Register discusses, in the following letter, a question which is rendered of more interest by the intelligence of the fall of Vicksburg:

The question frequently suggests itself, suppose we abandon Port Hudson and Vicksburg, what benefit would the Federal Government derive — what injury would it entail upon the Confederacy? Suppose we should give up those places and thus gratify the cravings of the great West, yield to her at this day that boon for which she has expended so much blood and treasure? I say, what would be the advantages and disadvantages? Let us look back on the page of history for the last two years and then judge the future by the past.

The object held in view by the West for the prosecution of the war is, that the possession of these places would give them the free and unobstructed navigation of the Mississippi river to the Gulf, and as a necessary consequence, its commerce and that of its tributaries. The commerce and trade of the Mississippi is absolutely essential to the existence of the Western people, who have two great and powerful motives in carrying on the war, and from their stand-point, for the of the motives I have not the heart to condemn them. The first motive I have named, the second is to escape from the thraldom and avarice of their New England friends. New England figures as the banker and aristocrat; while the West is the silly goose of a dependent, and a hewer of wood and a drawer of water. To wish to escape from this latter position I can blame no people.

True, the South has proposed to give the Western people the free navigation of the Mississippi; but either in their blindness or their inability to escape from the meshes thrown around them by the Abe Lincoln Government, the proposition was not accepted.--The West has still waged the war, and every blow that it has struck has only tended the more effectually to fasten on them the chains of commercial and financial bondage to the North and East. The West has so far succeeded as to have control of the river down to Vicksburg, while New England (or rather Massachusetts) controls from the Gulf to Port Hudson. Therefore, the only remaining portion of the river not open to commerce is from Vicksburg to Port Hudson. The Yankee gun boat patrol renders it useless to us always, excepting some forlorn flatboat or skiff which the Yankees have not destroyed, and which our people use to ferry themselves over the river.

The trade of the West down to Vicksburg is but trilling, and, take away the attractions of a large army, amounts to almost nothing. To make up for lost trade the Western people have resorted to robbing, stealing, and wantonly wasting everything in their pathway under the hallucination that after the war is over the Southern people will be compelled "to come to us and buy all these things over again." A Yankee idea to the cores, and I might ay it is not without its philosophy, for in too many instances it will prove true reasoning. New England holds the river, with New Orleans, to Port Hudson, and the only benefit derived is not from trade but from pillage.

Now, evacuate these places, and let the West use her steamboats to transport her produce South, instead of going to the East over the railroads around by New England and the northern capital, and what advantage has the West gained? The Southern people cannot trade with the West, because of its inability to pay for its produce in a proper currency.--There is not gold enough in the country — the people have been bankrupted by the robberies of their soldiers, and those who would buy cannot. Their plantations have been made desolate and the consumers carried away.--Their commerce will be fickle and precarious, for their boats and cargoes will be continually captured and destroyed; and to crown all, New England has a capacious month, extended "wide open" to swallow up whatever may successfully run the gauntlet to New Orleans to supply a local market, some little shipment in the West Indies, Mexico and South America.

In ordinary times the trade of Vicksburg alone was worth more to the West than will be all the trade of the Mississippi and its tributaries with Vicksburg and Port Hudson in their possession. Let the West have the Mississippi and still remain in arms against the South, and what will her trade be worth?--The question can be answered in a word — nothing. Then suppose the war continued, the West is paid in greenbacks and the coin husbanded in the North, while a debt is accumulated that will for ages grind her people with taxation, while the North and East, by their trickery, manage to indirectly collect their tax also from the West. Remember that the West has pursued no conciliatory course towards the South, collectively or individually, and is therefore entitled to no sympathy. Being naturally the ally of the South, New England politicians have been too adroit in their management of affairs to permit any feelings of sympathy or friendship to be engendered, either politically, socially, collectively, individually, or religiously.

The South can be damaged but very little more than she now is by the abandonment of these places, and the West can receive little or no benefit from the day that Port Hudson and Vicksburg are abandoned than she now enjoys.

It will be contended that to give up these places will encourage the West to renewed energy, and cause a procrastination of the war. This may be the case, but only for a little season. Not until then will the West realize the fact that she has lost her best cash customer and most true friend. It will then be as clear as "mud" to the Hoosiers, Buck eyes and Suckers, that they have been befooled to such an extent as to cause them to turn on their deceivers in their wrath, and take full vengeance. Nothing is more true in the natural course of life than that no man, however great a fool he may be, likes to be told of it, and, moreover, used as an instrument in the bands of his more crafty and subtle neighbor. Again, it may be urged that it would free a large portion of the Federal army, and thus enable the enemy to successfully carry out other expeditions. I think not, as it would require strong garrisons to hold all vulnerable, as well as strong points on the river, and, instead of holding so many, greatly reduce the Federal army. Other thoughts suggest themselves, but I have already written more than I intended.

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