the junction of forces at that point, for I am perishing to see a concentration of our armies against the strong places of the enemy.
I inclose a copy of my answer to General Grant upon this subject. I have also the honor to inclose a copy of a letter addressed to the Secretary of State,* which it was my intention should pass through your office, but which possibly may have been sent direct by mail to its address.
I believe the enemy to be concentrating a force from Arkansas of some 6,000 or 7,000 men and a small column from Texas at Shreveport to strengthen General Taylor. The troops from Arkansas will move from the Arkansas River, by the way of Monroe, to Shreveport, possible to follow the Red River down to Grand Ecore, 4 miles above Natchitoches, where they propose to fortify.
My advance is nearly 60 miles above Alexandria at this time. The truth of this report we shall very soon know. It is not practicable for me to follow the retreating enemy to Shreveport. I do not know that anything is left me but to direct my forces against Port Hudson with what success I may have. I hope to be able to communicate my movements by the next steamer.
Captain Palmer, commanding the ship Hartford, has notified met at the admiral direct him to remove his fleet below Port Hudson, which would add to the difficulty of any effort I might make to join General Grant at Vicksburg. I have urged the admiral to countermand this order for the present, and hope it it may be done.
I have the honor to remain, with sincere respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
Commander-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GLUF, 19TH ARMY CORPS,
Alexandria, La., May 12, 1863-8 a. m.
Commanding Forces before Vicksburg:
GENERAL: Your dispatch of the 10th instant I received by the hand of Captain [H. A.] Ulffers this morning at 6.30. I regret to say that it is impossible for me to join you at Vicksburg in time or with force to be of service to you in any immediately attack. I have neither water nor land transportation to make the movement by the river or by land. The utmost I can accomplish is to cross for the purpose of operating with you against Port Hudson. I could cross my infantry and artillery without transportation, receiving supplies from Baton Rouge, in the rear of Port Hudson. That is the utmost I can accomplish on the other side of the Mississippi above Port Hudson. Were it within the range of human power I should join you, for I am dying with a kind of vanishing hope to see two armies acting together against the strong places of the enemy. But I must say, without qualifications, that the means at my disposal do not leave me a shadow of a chance to accomplish it. I have been making preparations to join your corps at Bayou Sara, and though this would have laid all my trains and supplies open to the enemy's cavalry I should have risked it.
*Probably that of May 4.