the obstinacy with which every foot of ground was contested in the retreat, and the successful saving of our material and stores under circumstances of great difficultly stamps General Taylor as a leader of no ordinary merit.
Notwithstanding straggling and desertions have reduced General Taylor's command at least one-third, such dispositions have been made as it is hoped will delay the advance upon Alexandria for some days. In the mean time measures have been taken for the removal of all the stores at this point up Red River, and order given for the concentration of troops at Natchitoches or Shreveport, as the enemy's movements may allow.
The fall of the battery at Buttle-a-la-Rose, the opening of the Atchafalaya, and the concentration of a large fleet of boats below Vicksburg make the occupation of this country by General Banks an easy and certain operation.
The battery at Fort De Russy cannot stand a land attack; the advance of the enemy's column to the Hauffpaur, or an expedition from the Atchafalaya up Bayou de Glaise, will insure its speedy fal, with loss of guns and garrison. Under these circumstances General Taylor has ordered the removal of the 32 rifle and 11-inch columbiad ot a position higher up Red River.
Anticipating disaster from the weakness of General Taylor's force, when General Banks' landing at Berwick Bay was reported to me I ordered General Walker's division from the Arkansas, a brigade of Texas troops from near Fort Towson, and all the disposable force from the vicinity of Galveston. The rapid advance of the enemy and the magnitude of the distances to be marched will throw the point of concentration back to Natchitoches or Shreveport. I shall concentrate a force of at least 10,000 men and take the offensive, with strong hopes of recovering the country when the waters fall.
Disastrous as the loss of the sugar country in Louisiana is to us, General Taylor has done everything that was possible with the resources at his command. His effective force in the district was not over 5,000; that in the District of Arkansas was under 15,000 and too far to be available.
Could General Taylor have drawn upon Port Hudson for re-enforcements, or had the troops in East and West Louisiana been under one control, the force at Port Hudson might have been marched across to the Atchafalaya and rapidly transported to the scene of action in time to have defeated General Banks.
I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General.
ALEXANDRIA, April 25, 1863.
(Received April 29.)
GENERAL: The Federal army under General Banks is within one day's march of Alexandria.
General Taylor is falling back toward Natchitoches, and the Red River below Alexandria will son be in possession of the enemy.
E. KIRBY SMITH,
General S. COOPER, Richmond, Va.