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in the bosom of the Gulf," said Vallandigham, in his speech declaring the inability of the government to conquer the Rebellion, and the determination of the North-west to go with the South if a separation took place. But other men of the North-west saw different means of preserving their right of way on the great river besides receiving it as a gift from a few slaveholding rebels. Among them was Logan, who could talk eloquently as well as fight bravely. He said, "If the rebels undertake to control the Mississippi, the men of the North-west will hew their way to the Gulf, and make New Orleans a fishpond." Aside from Grant's appreciation, as a military commander, of the importance of the river, he was a Western man, born on the banks of the Ohio; and he sympathized thoroughly with the invincible determination which burned and glowed in the hearts of the people of the North-west to hold their way unchallenged to the sea.*
The rebels, very early in the Rebellion, seized and fortified the most important points, Columbus, Fort Pillow, Island No. 10, Vicksburg, and Port Hudson. The first three had fallen before Vicksburg was included in Gen. Grant's department. All that the Confederacy had of engineering skill and experience was
* In the summer of 1857, the writer, visiting St. Louis for the first time, happened to cross the river on the ferry-boat in the same carriage with Judge Douglas. The public mind was then full of the discussions in regard to Kansas. Judge Douglas turned to a Boston gentleman, and, pointing out of the window to the river, said, "As you are a stranger here, sir, I will show you a natural curiosity. The waters of the Missouri and Mississippi flow side by side here without intermingling, and with different colors, - -one clear, one dark and muddy.” — “ Perhaps,” was the reply," it is to represent the free soil and slave soil through which they flow."-"Perhaps so," said the judge with a smile. "I didn't think of that."
exhausted in rendering Vicksburg the Gibraltar of America. Nature and Art combined made it almost impregnable. It is four hundred miles above New Orleans, is situated on high ground, and had a population of four or five thousand.
The military results of the victories of Donelson and Shiloh had been to open the Mississippi from Cairo to Memphis, a distance of two hundred and forty miles.
Early in June, 1862, Farragut, after his brilliant victory at the mouth of the river, sent a part of his squadron up the river under Com. Lee, who found the city too strong to be taken with gunboats or mortarboats.
An attempt was made to move Vicksburg six miles from the river by cutting a canal in a bend in the Mississippi opposite. In former years, the course of this fickle and meandering stream had been changed in a single night by running a furrow with a plough across a neck of land. The canal was three miles and a half long, six feet deep, ten feet wide. The project deeply interested Mr. Lincoln, and attracted great attention throughout Europe. Several thousand men were engaged in this work for a number of weeks. was nearly completed, when the river rose suddenly, burst the dam at the head of the canal, and, instead of confining itself to the prepared channel, overflowed in all directions. Camps were submerged, horses drowned: the canal was a failure. Vicksburg was not to be displaced from the river-bank in that manner. For seventy days, from about the middle of May till the last of July, 1862, Vicksburg had been besieged; and
twenty-five thousand shot and shell were thrown into the city by the fleet, without impairing its defences.
It was attempted to cut a way from the river to Lake Providence, seventy miles north of Vicksburg, and formerly a part of the old channel; thence into the Tensas, Washita, and Red Rivers, into the Mississippi, above Port Hudson. It was a long and winding way; could only be used by steamers of light draught; had no depth of water when the river was low; and was finally abandoned.
Twelve miles north of Vicksburg, on the east side, is the mouth of the Yazoo River. Up this river the rebels had extemporized a navy-yard, and built there gunboats, and a powerful steam-ram and a water-battery. The mouth of the river was strongly fortified, especially at Haine's Bluff. One hundred and fifty miles north of Vicksburg, on the east side, is Moon Lake: from this lake the Yazoo Pass extends to the Coldwater River, thence to the Tallahatchie River, thence to the Yazoo River, all parallel to the Mississippi. The Yazoo Pass was a tortuous bayou, thirty feet deep, six miles long. In former years, this route had been used by small trading-vessels; but, as the whole country between the two rivers was often overflowed, the State of Mississippi had constructed a dam at the entrance to the pass. A mine was exploded; the dam was thrown open; and, in two days, a river a mile in length was pouring into Moon Lake, allowing the largest steamers to pass. But the rebels were not idle below. The banks of the rivers were lined with gigantic trees, sycamores, cottonwood, oak, elm, and pecan-wood. These trees were felled in large num
bers across the stream, mainly by enforced slavelabor. One barricade was a mile and a quarter in length. Some of these primeval giants, which were old when the Mississippi was first seen by white men, weighed twenty tons. These had to be hauled out by cables; men working in parties of five hundred in the water. After an almost incredible amount of labor, the pass was opened from Moon Lake to the Coldwater River. But, while the Union army had been opening the northern end of the new route, the rebels had been as diligently closing the lower end.
Gen. Ross with forty-five hundred men, on twentytwo transports, preceded by two iron-clads under Lieut.-Commander Watson, entered the Coldwater, twenty-five miles from the Mississippi, on the 2d of March. The river is about forty miles long, one hundred feet wide, and runs through a wilderness till it enters the Tallahatchie, a river of similar character, and both too deep to be easily obstructed. This long passage of two hundred and forty miles was made cautiously; the boats moving slowly by daylight, and being tied to the shore at night. It was an exploring expedition through an unknown region, filled with active and unrelenting enemies; but it was safely completed on the 10th of March.
Its success inspired the hope that the whole army might be transported through this circuitous route, nine hundred miles in length, and landed near Haine's Bluff, a few miles above Vicksburg. But the difficulty was to obtain at once, in sufficient numbers, steamers of light draught only. At first, only one division, under Gen. Quimby, could be sent; then the corps of Mc
Pherson, and a division of Hurlbut, were ordered to follow as fast as transportation could be obtained.
Near where the Tallahatchie flows into the Yazoo, a third river, the Yallabusha, enters it at the town of Greenwood. Opposite Greenwood, the rebels had erected Fort Pemberton. The land was so low as to be almost surrounded by water, too deep for a landattack by infantry, and not deep enough for boats to get within short range. The expedition depended
wholly upon the insufficient naval force for success. The boats could not get within less than twenty-seven hundred feet of the battery. The attack was made, but was unsuccessful. One boat was disabled, six men killed, and twenty-five wounded. The rebel loss was one man killed.
It was now attempted to drown out the garrison, only twenty-four inches above the water, by cutting a levee three hundred miles distant, at Austin, near Helena, and turning the floods of the Mississippi in that direction; but the lordly and capricious Father of Waters, as if determined that the dwellers on its banks should themselves settle forever their right of way to the sea, could neither be coaxed nor forced from its usual channel, and left Fort Pemberton unharmed. The course of the river was one of "non-intervention."
But Ross was in peril, and must be relieved. The Union gunboats held the mouth of the Yazoo. On this river, before reaching Haine's Bluff, Steele's Bayou opens, runs north, circles around Fort Pemberton, and re-enters the Yazoo sixty miles above a trackless and labyrinthine maze; adopting on its devious course of one hundred and fifty miles, as if to elude detection, the