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Chapter 20: events West of the Mississippi and in Middle Tennessee.

The repulse of the Confederates at Corinth was followed by brief repose in the Department over which General Grant had command, and which, by a general order of the 16th of October, was much extended, and named the Department of the Tennessee,1 with Headquarters at Jackson. He made a provisional division of it into four districts, commanded respectively by Generals W. T. Sherman, S. A. Hurlbut, C. S. Hamilton, and T. A. Davies--the first commanding the district of Memphis, the second that of Jackson, the third the district of Corinth, and the fourth the district of Columbus.

Vicksburg, a city of Mississippi, situated on a group of high eminences known as the Walnut Hills, on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, at a bold turn of the stream, and a point of great military importance, had been fortified by the Confederates,2 and was daily growing stronger. It was becoming a Gibraltar for them in opposing the grand scheme of the Nationals for gaining the command of the Great River, and thus severing important portions of the Confederacy. Toward the seizure of that point operations in the southwest were now tending. Vicksburg was not in General Grant's department, but its capture became his great objective, as well as that of others, and for that purpose a large portion of his forces had moved southward, and at the beginning of December had taken post between Holly Springs and Coldwater, on the two railways diverging from Grenada, in Mississippi, and the Tallahatchee River, behind which lay the Confederates in strength. There he was prepared to co-operate with the National forces westward of the Mississippi, and on the river below. That we may have a clear understanding of the relations of these co-operating forces, let us glance a moment at their antecedents, and especially their more recent movements. These forces, in other forms and numbers, we left, in former chapters, some under General Curtis, after the battle of Pea Ridge,3 and others under General Butler4 and Admiral Farragut.5

Let us first follow the fortunes of Curtis's army after the battle of Pea Ridge. We left it at Batesville, on the White River, in Arkansas, on the [525] 6th of May,6 where Curtis expected to find gun-boats and supplies, in charge of Colonel Fitch. The lowness of the water in the river had prevented their ascent, and one of the war-vessels had been destroyed by explosion in a struggle with a Confederate battery at St. Charles. This was a great disappointment to Curtis, for he had expected to advance on Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. Being compelled to depend for his supplies by wagontrains from Rolla, far up in Missouri, he did not feel warranted in making aggressive movements, and he remained at Batesville until the 24th of June, when he moved on toward the Mississippi, crossing the Big Black River on pontoon bridges, and traversing a: dreary country, among a thin and hostile population, until he reached Clarendon, on the White River, a little below the mouth of the Cache River.

Curtis was joined at Jacksonport

June 25, 1862.
by General C. C. Washburne, with the Third Wisconsin cavalry, which had made its way down from Springfield, in Missouri, without opposition. Southward the whole army moved, across the cypress swamps and canebrakes that line the Cache, and on the 7th of July the advance (Thirty-third Illinois), under Colonel A. P. Hovey, was attacked by about fifteen hundred Texas cavalry, led by General Albert Rust. Hovey halted until Lieutenant-Colonel Wood came up, with the First Indiana cavalry and two howitzers, when these re-enforcements made an impetuous charge, and put the foe to flight with heavy loss. They left one hundred and ten of their dead to be buried by the victors. The latter lost eight killed and forty-five wounded.

Curtis was again doomed to disappointment on reaching the White River at Clarendon, where he expected to meet gun-boats and supplies. These had gone down the river only twenty-four hours before his arrival. He was now short of provisions, and the people being intensely hostile, he felt compelled to go to the Mississippi by as short a journey as possible. After a most, wearisome march of sixty-five miles, he reached Helena, in Phillips County, between the 11th and 13th of July. Washburne, with twenty-five hundred cavalry and five howitzers, had marched that distance in twenty-four hours. The infantry brought with them a few Arkansas volunteers, and a large number of negroes, who sought liberty and protection under the old flag.

Both the National and Confederate powers were weak in Arkansas at, this time.

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