Halleck now commanded in Corinth a powerful army,—the forces of Grant, Buell, and Pope, combined,—not far from 100,000 strong, and he was threatened by no Southern force at all able to face him. According to the views of General Grant, he had great opportunities; and among these certainly was the advance of a strong column upon Vicksburg. If he could be induced to do this, it seemed reasonable to expect that he and Farragut together would be able to open the whole Mississippi River, and to cut the last remaining east-and-west line of railroad communication. But he did nothing, and ultimately the disposition made of this splendid collection of troops was to distribute and dissipate it in such a manner that the loss of the points already gained became much more probable than the acquisition of others.
Early in July, as has been elsewhere said, Halleck was called to Washington to take the place of general-in-chief of all the armies of the North; and at this point perhaps it is worth while to devote a paragraph to comparing the retirement of McClellan with the promotion of Halleck. Some similarities and dissimilarities in their careers are striking. The dissimilarities were: that McClellan had organized the finest army which the country had yet seen, or was to see; also that he had at least made a plan for a great campaign; and he had not suppressed any one abler than himself; that Halleck on the other hand had done little to organize an army or to plan a campaign, had failed to find out the qualities of General W.T. Sherman, who was in his department, and had done all in his power to drive General Grant into retirement. The similarities are more worthy of observation. Each general had wearied the administration with demands for reinforcements when each already outnumbered his opponent so much that it was almost disgraceful to desire to increase the odds. If McClellan had