could make no earlier movement, because all the steamers captured and in repair were claimed by the Navy, and were used either in towing their supply ships or tugging off the Rhode Island, which had gone on shore and detained us all three days. This point, in the judgment of the engineers on both sides, is a most defensible one on the northerly side, had been fortified by the rebels with heavy earthworks, and can be maintained with a few regiments against any force, however large, that may be brought against it.
The sloop-of-war Portsmouth and the gunboat Iroquois are anchored so as to enfilade the front of the enbankments which were abandoned by the rebels. These can easily be put in defensible condition, although before the arrival of the army and after the evacuation by the enemy, who spiked the guns, a party from the advanced gunboats landed and burned the gun-carriages, which we must supply from those captured at the custom-house.
All the rolling stock of the Jackson Railroad was carried away by the retreating General Lovell, and he has cut the road 14 miles above the city. I am now taking measures to possess ourselves of the whole road to Manchac Pass. The fleet have gone up the river as far as Baton Rouge. The flag-officer started yesterday, and I have sent two regiments to accompany him and make any landing necessary.
The projected expedition from Vicksburg to Jackson, of which I spoke in my last dispatch, has become nugatory, because I am reliably informed from different sources that Beauregard has fallen back upon Jackson with his whole army, and is there concentrating his means of defense. My spies inform me that he is suffering greatly for want of food; that his army is daily becoming demoralized and leaving him.
As soon as all necessary points can be occupied here and my instructions carried out as regards Mobile, I will endeavor to march upon his rear with al the force I can spare consistently with reasonable safety of this point.
As in case of defeat he must retreat upon us, it will be perceived that I must be prepared to meet the debris of his army, or indeed, as he has ample rolling stock (the Telegraph says 13 miles of cars), he may precipitate any amount of force upon me at any moment; for which we will try to be ready. I have caused Forts Pike and Wood, the defenses of Lake Pontchartrain, to be occupied by detachments of the Seventh Vermont and Eighth New Hampshire Regiments. I have not yet occupied either the Chalmette, Tower Dupre, or Battery Bienvenue. Our boats hold the lake, and these are only defenses from exterior enemies; are in no need to occupy them at present. The same observation will apply to Fort Livingston.
I have the honor to inclose copies of a proclamation and the several general orders necessary in the administration of the affairs of so large a city.* The order most questionable is the one in regard to cotton and sugar, Numbers 22; but it has had a most salutary effect. Both cotton and sugar are now being sent for to be brought into this market, and the burning through the adjacent country has ceased.
My action in regard to provisions was made absolutely necessary by the starvation which was falling upon the "just and the unjust," and as the class of workmen and mechanics on whom it is pressing most heavily, I am persuaded, are well disposed to the Union, I may have to take other measures to feed these.
It will become necessary for me to use the utmost severity in rooting
*See "Correspondence, etc.," post.