E have just seen, west of the Mississippi
, the Federals
remaining at the end of the year masters of the State of Missouri
and a portion of Arkansas
Their efforts to extend their power farther south, on the very borders of the Mississippi
, and especially on the east bank, in the State
which bears that name, had not been so successful.
These efforts, however, showed the way they were determined to follow with the utmost perseverance.
Since the victory of Corinth
's only thought was to open communications with New Orleans by the river.
He was well aware of what importance the undisputed possession of the Mississippi
would be, but in the month of October, as we have before said, he did not have the necessary forces to resume the offensive against the troops of Van Dorn
, which had just been united into a single army under the command of Lieutenantgeneral Pemberton
The abandonment of Kentucky
by the Confederates
at the end of October, and the new call for troops during the summer, placed the means for reinforcing Grant
at the disposal of the Federal
That general at once proposed a land expedition against Vicksburg
His project was to follow the line of railway from Memphis
, and from Grenada
, taking Memphis
, on the Mississippi
, as a base of operations.
This city would have been connected with the North
by the railroad which passes at Humboldt
, striking again the great river at Columbus
In order to defend this long railway track, all the secondary lines would have been abandoned, as well as the stations
, and even the fortifications of Corinth
, whose works would have been destroyed, and the depots evacuated.
did not approve of this plan, which probably sacrificed too much to an uncertainty.
especially was a subject of great anxiety to the commanderin-chief of the Federal
armies, the capture of this position being, in fact, the only event of the war in which he had personally participated.
then resolved to advance gradually along the Mississippi Central Railroad, as far as the forces at his disposal would permit him, by feeling his way and repairing the track behind him.
Before we follow him in these operations, we must, in a few words, describe the country where he and his lieutenants were about to fight, which is comprised between Memphis
, at the north, the point of departure of the Federals
, and Vicksburg
, at the south, the principal objective point of their campaign.
This country is a vast rectangle, the west side of which is formed by the Mississippi
and the others by three railroads; at the north, from Memphis
by way of Grand Junction
; at the east, the section of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad comprised between Corinth
; at the south, the line from Vicksburg
, which passes through Jackson
At the four angles are situated Memphis
The rectangle is divided in two throughout its length by the Mississippi Central Railroad, which runs parallel to the Mississippi
from Grand Junction
Between the two extremities of this line, and nearly in the centre of the rectangle, stands the village of Grenada
From this point a line of railway which terminates at Memphis
starts diagonally in a north-westerly direction.
The largest portion of this country appertains to the Mississippi
basin, which receives the waters of Yazoo River
and those of Big Black River
above Grand Gulf
These two considerable rivers run from north-north-east to south-south-west at a short distance front each other.
A third, Pearl River
, after following a parallel direction as far as Jackson
, turns directly south and empties in the Gulf of Mexico
through Lake Borgne
, near New Orleans.
Most of this region bears a resemblance to the neighborhood of Corinth
; it is a rolling country,
covered with forests, interspersed with cotton plantations; its soil, rich and moist, is irrigated by numerous water-courses.
But on approaching the Mississippi
the ground becomes more level, sometimes gradually, and sometimes suddenly.
In the northern section, the district comprised between the Yazoo
and the great river is flat, marshy and intersected by bayous, which flow slowly from the rounded bed (dos daane
) of the latter river; frequently flooded, and covered with cypress thickets, the soil, wherever it has been reclaimed, is of an exceptional fertility.
Farther south the undulating ground ends in a series of abrupt slopes, which border the left bank of the Yazoo
, and sink at last in the waters of the Mississippi
on the shores of Vicksburg
On the 2d of November, Grant
had put five divisions in motion, which swelled the number of his active forces to more than thirty thousand men. Three of these divisions started from Bolivar
, the other two came from Corinth
, and all proceeded toward Grand Junction
On the 4th the Federal
army occupied this point, as well as Lagrange
, while the cavalry was advancing toward the south.
But the reinforcements, which had long been expected, arrived slowly, and the political influences, which had embarrassed military operations in Virginia
, were beginning to be felt in the remote regions where the modest and reticent Grant
was in command.
His position was envied by many persons, who, in order to prove their capacity, were busying themselves in Washington
in projecting expeditions more or less chimerical.
Honest Mr. Lincoln
was always anxious to accommodate by his tact both the jealousies of ambition and the most divergent plans of campaign; this led to frequent conflicts of authority, especially at that period, when no officer had as yet acquired a sufficiently great reputation to be entrusted by the responsible chief magistrate of the republic with the supreme control of military affairs, with which he was himself invested by the Constitution
Politicians, collected at Washington
, were too prone to believe that they could divide the enemy's territory and arrange the plan of conquering it, just as in former days they would have divided the civil offices at their disposal among themselves.
It was in this way that Mr. Lincoln
had almost promised an independent command to General McClernand
, his personal friend.
Being unable to obtain
's place, McClernand
had asked the President
to redeem his pledge by placing him at the head of some expedition on the Mississippi
Warned by the example of what had taken place a few months before, Halleck
opposed this fatal dismemberment of the armies of the West
, but only succeeded in obtaining a postponement.
The reinforcements intended for Grant
, instead of reaching the quarters of that general, were assembled at Memphis
for the purpose of being formed at a moment's notice into a corps independent of his authority, his own movement being even interrupted for a few days.
Finally, on the 12th of November, Grant
was given permission, to quote the words in Halleck
's despatch, ‘to
fight the enemy wherever he should think proper,’ and he set off immediately.
His principal object was to attack Pemberton
, who must have had from thirty to forty thousand men under his command.
He was well aware, in fact, that so long as this army remained intact he should not be able either to penetrate into the country, or even to approach Vicksburg
with the least chance of success.
If he advanced too far, he exposed his line of communications in his rear; if he embarked his army to descend the