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material benefit, was at least cheering from its brilliance and dash. But the scale, that trembled and seemed about to turn in favor of the South, again went back on receipt of the news of Van Dorn's defeat, on the 7th March, in the trans-Mississippi. Price and his veterans — the pride of the whole people, and the great dependence in the West-had been defeated at Elk Horn. And again the calamity assumed unwonted proportions in the eyes of the people from the death of Generals Ben McCollomself upon a pinnacle-let us hope-unattainable again! It is hard to overrate the consequences of the fall of New Orleans. The commercial city and port of the whole South-west-its depot and granary — the key to communication with the trans-Mississippi, and the sentinel over vast tracts of rich and productive territory-her loss was the most stunning blow that had yet been dealt the cause of the South. It opened the whole length of the Mississippi as a new base for operations against the
Thomas C. DeLeon, Four years in Rebel capitals: an inside view of life in the southern confederacy, from birth to death., Chapter 24: echo of Seven days, North and South. (search)
and sweep ruin and destruction over the whole trans-Alleghany region. Not dispirited by the reverses in Virginia, the northern government remitted nothing of its designs upon the West, but rather pushed them toward more rapid completion. These designs were to hold the State of Kentucky by the army under Buell, wrest from the South the possession of Tennessee and Alabama--as a base for attack upon Georgia and cutting through to the seaboard; and to push the army under Grant down through Mississippi to the Gulf. These movements would not only weaken the Confederacy, by diverting so many men, ill to be spared, to watch the various columns; but would, moreover, wrest from it the great grain-producing and cattle-grazing sections from which the armies were mainly fed. Simultaneously with these a heavy force was to be massed under McClernand in Ohio, to sweep down the Mississippi; while the weak show of Confederate force in the states west of the river was to be crushed before it could m
irm Johnston relieves Bragg the Emancipation proclamation Magruder's Galveston amphiboid the Atlantic seaboard popular estimate of the status hope for the New year. And misfortunes did not come singly, but in battalions. The trans-Mississippi was so far distant that only broken echoes of its troubles could penetrate the web of hostile armies between it and the Capital. But those echoes were all of gloom. Desultory warfare --with but little real result to either side, and only a suthern camp — as each hard hand clasped tighter round the hard musket stock-and there was an answering throb to the cry of Thompson's prompt war song: Let this be the watchword of one and of all- Remember the Butcher, McNeil! Meantime, Mississippi had been the scene of new disasters. Vicksburg, the Queen of the West, still sat unhurt upon her bluffs, smiling defiance to the storm of hostile shot and shell; teaching a lesson of spirit and endurance to which the whole country looked with
d sailors panting for the very lack of element in musty offices, privateers did not increase in number; and one of the most effective engines of legitimate warfare was but illustrated, instead of being utilized. Meantime, the Navy Department had ceased to importune for appropriations to build iron-clads at New Orleans; an omission that carried the grave responsibility for loss of that city, and for the far graver disaster of the closing of the whole river and the blockade of the trans-Mississippi. For had the Louisiana been furnished with two companion ships of equal strength-or even had she been completely finished and not had been compelled to succumb to accidents within, while she braved the terrific fire from without — the Federal fleet might have been crushed like egg-shells; the splendid exertions of Hollins and Kennon in the past would not have been nullified; the blood of McIntosh and Huger would not have been useless sacrifice; and the homes of the smiling city and the
Thomas C. DeLeon, Four years in Rebel capitals: an inside view of life in the southern confederacy, from birth to death., Chapter 31: the Chinese-Wall blockade, abroad and at home. (search)
good-bred infinite discontent in army and in people alike. That misdirection-and its twin, mismanagement of finance-aided to strangle prematurely the young giant they might have nourished into strength;-- And the spirit of murder worked in the very means of life! But the Chinese-wall blockade was tripartite; not confined to closing of the ocean ports. Almost as damaging, in another regard, were the occupation of New Orleans, and the final stoppage of communication with the trans-Mississippi by the capture of Vicksburg. The Heroic City had long been sole point of contact with the vast productive tracts, beyond the great river. The story were twicetold of a resistance-unequaled even by that at Charleston and beginning with first Union access to the river, by way of New Orleans. But, in May, 1862, the combined fleets of Porter and Farragut from the South, and Davis from the North, rained shot and shell into the coveted town for six terrible weeks. Failing reduction, they
tewed-new style, hair on; mule liver, hashed à l'explosion. side Dishes: Mule salad; mule hoof, soused; mule brains l'omelette; mule kidneys, braises on ramrod; mule tripe, on half (Parrot) shell; mule tongue, cold, à la Bray. Jellies: Mule foot (3-to-yard); mule bone, à la trench. Pastry: Rice pudding, pokeberry sauce; cottonwood-berry pie, à la iron-clad; chinaberry tart. dessert: White-oak acorns; beech-nuts; blackberry-leaf tea; genuine Confederate coffee. liquors: Mississippi water, vintage 1492, very superior, $3; limestone water, late importation, very fine, $3.75; spring water, Vicksburg bottled up, $4. Meals at few hours. Gentlemen to wait upon themselves. Any inattention in service should be promptly reported at the office. Jeff Davis & Co., Proprietors. Card: The proprietors of the justly-celebrated Hotel de Vicksburg, having enlarged and refitted the same, are now prepared to accommodate all who may favor them with a call. Parties arri
Federals caught the Confederates unprepared-showing the hardest hitting with advantage on the Union side. The compliment was exchanged, by a decisive southern success at Germania Ford; but the resultless fighting dispirited and demoralized the people, while it only harassed and weakened the army. Both looked to the great shock to come; forces for which were gathering, perhaps unseen and unheard, yet felt by that morbid prescience which comes in the supreme crises of life. The trans-Mississippi was now absolutely cut off from participation in the action of the eastern Confederacy; almost equally so from communication with it. Still that section held its own, in the warfare peculiar to her people and their situation. Quick concentrations; sharp, bloody fights-skirmishes in extent, but battles in exhibition of pluck and endurance — were of constant occurrence. Kirby Smith --become almost a dictator through failure of communicationadministered his department with skill, judgment
general's want of balance caused him to overweight it, until its own ponderousness was its destruction. On the 1st of February, Sherman, with a splendidlyap-pointed force of 35,000 infantry, and corresponding cavalry and artillery, marched out of Vicksburg; to penetrate to Mobile, or some other point more accessible, on the line of the proposed new base. Simultaneously a heavy force approached the city from New Orleans; Smith and Grierson, with a strong body of cavalry, penetrated Northern Mississippi; and Thomas made his demonstration referred to. Any candid critic will see that four converging columns, to be effective, should never have operated so far away from their point of convergence, and so far separated from each other. The enterprise was gigantic; but its awkwardness equaled its strength, and its own weight broke its back. Sherman, harassed by cavalry and skirmishers-advanced in solid column; while Polk, with his merely nominal force, was unable to meet him. But
he South was lost! In their extremity the people said little, but hope left them utterly. In the army or out, there were few, indeed-and no Virginiansbut believed the cause was lost when the army marched away. Richmond was Virginia — was the cause! With Sherman already in possession of Charleston and Savannah, and the army unable to do aught but retreat sullenly before himwith Virginia gone, and the Confederacy narrowed down to North Carolina, a strip of Alabama and the trans-Mississippi-what hope was left? After General Johnston had been relieved at Atlanta, the Department had managed, on one reason or another, to shelve him until now. The public voice was loudly raised against the injustice done the man they admired most of all the bright galaxy of the South; and even Congress woke from its stupor long enough to demand for the great soldier a place to use his sword. This was in January; but still the government did not respond, and it was not until the 23d February