menced the movement. There are many difficulties to overcome, but I believe it will be successful. It will enable us, if successful, to cut off supplies by the Red River and to communicate with the forces below Vicksburg. About 3,000 men will be engaged in this service, the full strength that can be conveyed on our transports with two gunboats and several armed launches. At the same time General Weitzel is moving on the Bayou Teche to intercept the rebel force at Franklin and capture, if possible, the rebel steamers which are at that point. About 4,000 men are engaged in this expedition. Its success is nearly certain. The first object accomplished, the dispersion of the force at Franklin, the expedition may join General Emory at Butte-a-la-Rose, by the Martinville road, or move upon Iberia, for the purpose of destroying the salt-works in that locality.
Both of these expeditions are necessarily by water transportation exclusively. West of the Mississippi the country is subject to inundations at this season, and movement by land is impossible. The limitation of transports reduces the force employed much below what it should be. I have stopped the navigation of the Mississippi for all steamers engaged in local trade, and yet, with the Government and private vessels together, I am able to force into this service but five steamers for Emory's and but two for Weitzel's troops. If it were possible to send into this country the full force required I should regard the capture of Opelousas and the occupation of the Red River at its junction with the Mississippi as certain. I hope still it may be so.
In conjunction with these movements the forces at Baton Rouge will move to the rear of Port Hudson, with a view to cut off supplies by the way of Clinton. If their supplies by Red River and the position west of the Mississippi be cut off they must come out of their entrenchments to fight us. for which we are ready. Their works are too strong for a direct attack by men who have never fired a gun. Such an attempt would result as at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg. The works have been in construction since August, and are as strong as at Vicksburg. If nothing better can be done, we will assault them. Admiral Farragut will attack the works on the river, and will probably run the batteries with one or more vessels, placing us in communication with forces above.
We have a report to-day from Baton Rouge that one of our gunboats had run below Vicksburg as far as Red River, capturing three of the enemy's supply vessels.
The health of my command is good. The troops suffer chiefly from the process of acclimation. They are in good spirits and daily improving in drill and discipline.
Generals Andrews and Dwight arrived yesterday with the balance of the troops, and are already assigned to their respective commands.
The naval force and water transportation here is lamentably deficient; this should be supplied without delay. We require constant communication with Pensacola, Ship Island, Galveston, and the Rio Grande by blockading ships or transports. The naval force is very small-wholly insufficient when the demands of the river are considered, in addition to those of the coast, and embarrasses all our movements.
Much solicitude has been felt in regard to the safety of Ship Island. It is reported to us from Mobile that several iron-clads are ready to go out and that an attack may be expected. There are but two naval vessels there, both sailing ships. The place cannot be defended, except
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