WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJT. GEN'S. OFFICE, No. 184.
Washington, November 8, 1862.
By direction of the President of the United States Major General N. P. Banks is assigned to the command of the Department of the Gulf, including the State of Texas.
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 9, 1862.
Major General N. P. BANKS, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: The President of the United States having assigned you to command of the Department of the Gulf, you will immediately proceed with the troops assembling in transports at Fort Monroe* to New Orleans and relieve Major-General Butler. An additional force of some 10,000 men will be sent to you from Boston and New York as soon as possible. The first military operations which will engage your attention on your arrival at New Orleans will be the opening of the Mississippi and the reduction of Fort Morgan or Mobile City, in order to control that bay and harbor. In these expeditions you will have the co-operation of the rear-admiral commanding the naval forces in the Gulf and the Mississippi River. A military and naval expedition is organizing at Memphis and Cairo to move down the Mississippi and co-operate with you against Vicksburg and any other points which the enemy may occupy on that river. As the ranking general in the Southwest, you are authorized to assume control of any military forces from the Upper Mississippi which may come within your command. The line of division between your department and that of Major-General Grant is therefore left undecided for the present, and you will exercise superior authority as far north as you may ascend the river.
The President regards the opening of the Mississippi River as the first and most important of all our military and naval operations, and it is hoped that you will not lose a moment in accomplishing it.
This river being opened, the question will arise how the troops and naval forces there can be employed to the best advantage. Two objects are suggested as worthy of your attention: First, on the capture of Vicksburg, to send a military force directly east to destroy the railroads at Jackson and Marion, and thus cut off all connection by rail between Northern Mississippi and Mobile and Atlanta. The latter place is now the chief military depot of the rebel armies in the West. Second, to ascend with a naval and military force the Red River as far as it is navigable, and thus open an outlet for the sugar and cotton of Northern Louisiana. Possibly both of these objects may be accomplished if the circumstances should be favorable. It is also suggested that, having Red River in our possession, it would form the best base for operations in Texas.
It is believed that the operations of General Rosecrans in East Tennessee, of General Grant in Northern Mississippi, and of General Steele in Arkansas will give full employment to the enemy's troops in the West, and thus prevent them from concentrating in force against you. Should they do so, you will be re-enforced by detachments from one or more of these commands.
*For correspondence, etc., relating to the organization of this expedition, see Series III, Vol. II.