ciency in cutting off communication and transportation of stores and troops to sustain the enemy. Excuse these suggestions, which you will appreciate and which are made en passant in transmitting the extract from Commander Porter's letter. We cannot have a rigid river police and effective interdiction between the opposite shores while Vicksburg remains an obstacle to prevent or at least retard operations.
I would invite especial attention to the remarks in relation to General Williams and his force and the opinion expressed that he can go anywhere 30 miles into the interior below Vicksburg, and, supported by the gunboats, destroy the enemy's stores, capture the cattle they have grazing, and be instrumental in keeping open the river. I place high value on Commander Porter's observations, and his urgent conviction that prompt action should be taken induces me to communicate his views to you.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
UNITED STATES STEAMER OCTORARA,
New Orleans, July 13, 1862.
Flag-Officer D. G. FARRAGUT, U. S. N.,
Commanding Western Gulf Squadron, Mississippi River:
* * * * * *
I have reliable information that the rebels are doing all they can to transport heavy guns to the river-side and to make us believe that they have abandoned the plan of fortifying the river-heights at Grand Gulf, Cole's, Ellis' Cliffs, Loftus Heights, Quitman's Landing, and Bayou Sara. They have temporarily taken away the field pieces they had there. The first thing that we will know some of our vessels will unexpectedly be fired on from heavy guns and unable to pass. I would suggest that the army under General Williams be employed in cleaning out the above-mentioned places on the way down the river, backed by one or two of our vessels to cover his landing. You may depend, sir, that General Williams is frittering away his time on that grand canal, which will never amount to anything while the river is falling. He lost his chance of distinction the morning the ships went up, and he can only recover his prestige by going to work energetically and visit every position on the Mississippi where a battery can be built. His force is sufficiently strong to go anywhere 30 miles into the interior below Vicksburg. Supported by the gunboats he can destroy the enemy's stores, capture the cattle they have grazing about 10 miles back, and in fact open this river; for I speak within bounds when I say that it is nearer being closed up at this moment than it has been since we came into it.
Vicksburg the finest strategical point on the river, is neglected by the army at Memphis. The Navy cannot overcome it while 2,000 men even remain to fire the guns and run away when the ships approach. It is an army affair altogether. It is at this moment of more importance than any point on the Mississippi. With a fine railroad into the heart of Louisiana, making direct and rapid communication with Texas.
The rebels could get all they want if once in possession of that road. Every day it is fast slipping through our fingers, owing to the delay in not sending troops to occupy Vicksburg; for I consider it virtually taken as it stands, and the few men now there (about 8,000) will move