by dispatches from General Augur to-day. It must be some time before it reaches you.
I was disappointed in learning from the perusal of your dispatches that at their date it was undetermined whether you can send a force to the Red River or not, on account of the deficiency of your transportation. It is a grief on my part that I cannot aid you in this respect. Our transportation is lamentably deficient. I had but one steamer with which to pass two divisions of my corps over Berwick Bay in this campaign. The route is open, but I can reach Red River only by forced marches. It is six days' march to Alexandria, and four or five to Simmesport, at the mouth of the Atchfalaya, but until we can hear from you I shall make Washington, on the Courtableau, my base of operations.
We can co-operate with you in any manner you suggest, by a junction on the Red River or by an attack from Baton Rouge, joining your forces on the Bayou Sara in the rear of Port Hudson. My belief is that this is the best method, as the passage of the Mississippi from the Red River is very difficult with our short transportation and will require a landing, and places us between the armies of Vicksburg and Port Hudson; but we shall not hesitate. I wait anxiously to hear from you upon these points, viz:
First. When can you be at the mouth of the Black or Red River?
Second. In what manner shall my forces co-operate with you?
Third. Can you furnish transportation for your passage to Port Hudson or do you rely upon us?
Fourth. Can you supply your troops or will you rely upon us?
Fifth. Is it not practicable for your force to join us by the Atchafalaya?
It is doubtful if we can supply your forces from New Orleans in operating above Port Hudson, on account of our deficient transportation. My belief is that the best junction is by the Atchafalaya. We can reach Baton Rouge by the Grand River and the Plaquemine without transshipment, and, our forces united, make the reduction of Port Hudson certain. My own command is insufficient.
Waiting anxiously your response and with full confidence in your judgment and earnest co-operation, I am, very truly, yours,
N. P. BANKS,
[Inclosure No. 5.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
Opelousas, La., April 23, 1863.
Commanding Forces before Vicksburg:
GENERAL: Further reflection upon my letter of this date and additional information as to the condition of the country on this line leads me to urge more strongly the point of junction indicated at its close, viz, by the Atchfalaya, Grand River, and Plaquemine Bayou to Baton Rouge. We are now 180 miles from New Orleans. It is with great difficulty that we obtain supplies now. Corn and beef are our chief support. To extend this line a hundred miles farther, as it will be on the Red River, increases the difficulty, and to push it farther still, to the opposite side of the Mississippi at Bayou Sara, will render supplies very insecure, if not impossible. I commend this subject to your earnest consideration.