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 Posted: Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 04:38 pm
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ole
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I have this vague recollection that the importance of openning the Mississippi River was to help out the shipping needs of states such as Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  Wasn't a Mississippi River "running unvexed to the sea" politically important to Lincoln?
In the two years that the Mississippi was closed, Midwest farmers shipped their grain east over railroads. RRs were more expensive than barges, so the farmers groused accordingly. (There may well have been some gouging in there as well.)

Barge shipping is still less expensive than railroads, as you can see if you've ever watched traffic on the Ohio, Missouri, or the Mississippi and its feeders, but "running unvexed" remains more important politically than strategically.

(One more hit on the dead horse:) "Because we can" has as much weight on the homefront as "because we must." Take Sherman's March, for example. Although cutting the flow of supplies to Lee at Petersburg was a "must," it was equally a spirit-raising demonstration of "can." Vicksburg was more a "can" than a "must."

ole

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