The navigation of the Mississippi
In the year 1863, Richard Lander
, the celebrated African
traveller, who had three years before solved the mystery of ages by successfully exploring the course of the Niger
, and ing triumphantly into the Atlantic
by one of the months, undertook a commercial voyage to the river, under the auspices of a Liverpool firm.
Anticipating hostility from some of the savage tribes that inhabit the banks of that river, he had provided himself with an iron steamboat, and in this he prosecuted the enterprise.
He soon found his anticipations of savage hostility realized.
The driven attacked his boat from the shore with bows and arrows and such old condemned tower muskets as they had been able to collect in their with the English
, killed a great part of his crow, wounded himself, and ly broke up the expedition.
The moral of this tale is, that trade cannot be carried on upon a long narrow river, inhabited on both shores by a hostile population, even though that population be savage, and even though the boats be of iron.
Much more, then, in it impossible to carry it on through a highly civilized population, animated with the most deadly hatred, abounding in skillful marksmen, possessing cannon and small arms in abundance, and determined that the ing shall not be done such is precisely the condition and feeling of the country from Cairo
to the Belize.
The people are brave and enterprising; they possess arms and ammunition in abundance; they hate the Yankees
as the Devil is supposed the hate holy water, and they are determined not to allow the river to be navigated by their trading boats.
What good, then, will the capture of Vicksburg
and Port Hudson
, and of every other strong place on the Mississippi
, do the Yankees
They are fighting they say, for the free navigation of the Mississippi
Does this advance the cause for which they are fighting?
Are they any nearer their object now then they were when they first drew the sword?
Do they mean to carry on trade in iron clad ships of war?
Are there to be no more flat boats, no more high pressure steamboats, no more rafts, no more of any of the cheap and time honored vehicles in which the commerce of the Mississippi
has been transported ever since the first settlement of the first colony on its banks?
Trade to be successful and continued, must be secure.
That is one of the very orements of its existence.
It is this necessity that has caused so many insurance companies to spring up throughout Christendom.
in is this that has driven two thirds of the Yankee
commercial fleet from the water, and fined the whole length the Yankee
ports and dock yards with useless hulks.
It is this that has transferred the sceptre of the commercial world once more to the hands of England Semmes
and Malfit, almost alone, have been enabled to effect this wonderful change, merely by the fear they inspire.
But what are Semmes
and Malfit, with a couple of vessels navigating the wide Atlantic
, to a population of several millions inhabiting both sides of a narrow river and always ready to pounce upon every freight boat as it passes along.
What Yankee company will insure a cargo to run the gauntlet from Allen
to New Orleans, through the dense forests that line some parts of the course, and the thousands of wood yards that are strewed all along the banks, where whole regiments of sharpshooters or light artillerists may be waiting to sink the vessel, or seize it as a prized if any be found bold enough to undertake, what will be the premium!.
Cheapness of transportation is another element of commerce.
How can it exist where transportation is to be made in iron clads, and at a premium of 100 per cent it will be better to submit to the skinning process of the New England
cormorants, and transport by rail to Boston
But suppose all the danger past, and the born-flour, bacon, and tobacco, safely landed on the levee at New Orleans.
Who is to buy?
It is a part of the subjugation scheme to rip up the goose that lays the golden eggs — to cut down the tree that supplies the precious fruit — to liberate the negroes that make the cotton and sugar — to ruin the planter that purchases the produce.
Who, then, is to buy it, or what is to become of it, unless it be re-shipped at enormous coat to New York or the West
We tell our countrymen that they have no reason for despair, or even for despondency at the loss of Vicksburg
The pertinacious gallantry with which it has been defended has made our people place too high an estimate up — on its importance.
Its capture does not and cannot command the course of the Mississippi
That is now and always will be in our power.
No trade can be carried on upon it but with our consent.
So well convinced were many of our best officers of this fact that they from the first expressed their opposition to risking any portion of the army, in any fortress upon the river, for the purpose of interrupting the trade.
This they thought could best "don" by means of strong parties with artillery, scattered about along its course.
In gaining Vicksburg
have not advanced one inch towards their object.