THE APPROACH OF VICTORY
1. The War to the End of 1863.
The events of the Eastern theatre of war have been followed into the early summer of 1863, when Lee was for the second time about to invade the North. The Western theatre of war has been left unnoticed since the end of May, 1862. From that time to the end of the year no definite progress was made here by either side, but here also the perplexities of the military administration were considerable; and in Lincoln’s life it must be noted that in these months the strain of anxiety about the Eastern army and about the policy of emancipation was accompanied by acute doubt in regard to the conduct of war in the West.
When Halleck had been summoned from the West, Lincoln had again a general by his side in Washington to exercise command under him of all the armies. Halleck was a man of some intellectual distinction who might be expected to take a broad view of the war as a whole; this and his freedom from petty feelings, as to which Lincoln’s known opinion of him can be corroborated, doubtless made him useful as an adviser; nor for a considerable time was there any man with apparently better qualifications for his position. But Lincoln soon found, as has been seen, that Halleck lacked energy of will, and cannot have been long in discovering that his judgment was not very good. The President had thus to make the best use he could of expert advice upon which he would not have been justified in relying very fully.
When Halleck arrived at Corinth at the end of May, 1862, the whole of Western and Middle Tennessee was for the time clear of the enemy, and he turned his attention at once to the long delayed project of rescuing the Unionists in Eastern Tennessee, which was occupied by a Confederate army under General Kirby Smith. His object was to seize Chattanooga, which lay about 150 miles to the east of him, and invade Eastern Tennessee by way of the valley of the Tennessee River, which cuts through the mountains behind Chattanooga. With this in view he would doubtless have been wise if he had first continued his advance with his whole force against the Confederate army under Beauregard, which after evacuating Corinth had fallen back to rest and recruit in a far healthier situation 50 miles further south. Beauregard would have been obliged either to fight him with inferior numbers or to shut himself up in the fortress of Vicksburg. As it was, Halleck spent the month of June merely in repairing the railway line which runs from Corinth in the direction of Chattanooga. When he was called to Washington he left Grant, who for several months past had been kept idle as his second in command, in independent command of a force which was to remain near the Mississippi confronting Beauregard, but he restricted him to a merely defensive part by ordering him to keep a part of his army ready to send to Buell