THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST Vicksburg--EMPLOYING THE FREED- MEN--OCCUPATION OF HOLLY SPRINGS--SHERMAN ORDERED TO Memphis--SHERMAN'S MOVEMENTS DOWN THE MISSIS- SIPPI--VAN DORN CAPTURES HOLLY SPRINGS--COLLECTING FORAGE AND FOOD--HEADQUARTERS MOVED TO HOLLY SPRINGS--GENERALMCCLERN AND IN COMMAND--ASSUMING COMMAND AT YOUNG'S POINT--OPERATIONS ABOVE VICKS- BURG--FORTIFICATIONS ABOUT Vicksburg--THE CANAL-- LAKE PROVIDENCE--OPERATIONS AT YAZOO PASS--THE BAYOUS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI--CRITICISMS OF THE NORTHERN PRESS--RUNNING THE BATTERIES--LOSS OF THE INDIANOLA--DISPOSITION OF THE TROOPS.
Vicksburg was important to the enemy because it occupied the first high ground coming close to the river below Memphis. From there a railroad runs east, connecting with other roads leading to all points of the Southern States. A railroad also starts from the opposite side of the river, extending west as far as Shreveport, Louisiana. Vicksburg was the only channel, at the time of the events of which this chapter treats, connecting the parts of the Confederacy divided by the Mississippi. So long as it was held by the enemy, the free navigation of the river was prevented. Hence its importance. Points on the river between Vicksburg and Port Hudson were held as dependencies; but their fall was sure to follow the capture of the former place.
The campaign against Vicksburg commenced on the 2d of November as indicated in a dispatch to the general-in-chief in the following words: "I have commenced a movement on Grand Junction, with three divisions from Corinth and two from Bolivar. Will leave here [ Jackson, Tennessee] to-morrow, and take command in person. If found practicable, I will go to Holly Springs, and, may be, Grenada, completing railroad and telegraph as I go."