Blockade of the Mississippi Withdrawn
Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle, January 26, 1861
The news of the blockade of the Mississippi by batteries of guns at Vicksburg and Memphis, has naturally produced intense excitement and much indignation throughout the whole West. It was a very rash and foolish undertaking. Whatever disposition may be made of the Gulf States, it is the settled and inflexible resolve of the whole North, that the Mississippi must be forever free to its commerce, even if it cost a bloody and lengthened struggle. The Governor of Mississippi, in a special message, says he was advised by the Governor of Louisiana that an expedition would be sent down the Mississippi river to reinforce the garrisons of the forts and arsenals of that State, and that therefore he had ordered artillery at Vicksburg, but afterwards learning that there was no fear of anything of the kind, he had directed the forces to be withdrawn. The Memphis battery, we believe, is still in position, and much trouble has been occasioned to boats passing by that demented city. To be sure, there is now very little northern traffic with the South, via the Father of Waters, but it should and must be forever left free and unembarrassed to the people of the west. If the federal government will protect them in this right, they would doubtless prefer protection by its authority; but if the government should fail to act, they would wrest the mouths of that noble river from hostile occupation by their own valor, and on their own responsibility.
A contest for the mouth of the Mississippi is one which the South should be slow to provoke; no one who is acquainted with the robust character and resolute daring of the Western people can doubt the result of such a struggle. The brave and hardy people of the West are not to be trifled with too far. If their outlet to the Gulf is seriously obstructed, they would inundate the lower valley of the Mississippi in irresistible strength, and would sweep over it like a tornado, driving rash and foolish aggressors into the Gulf of Mexico.