War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0656 W.FLA., S.FLA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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of removing one of the gunboats from Berwick Bay. These gunboats are now in a very bad condition. I believe it to be a solemn duty to put them all at once in a perfect condition, fill up their crews, and render them as effective as is possible, and that not only they be kept there, but that as many others, to the number of six or eight, be added to them-boats that draw about 4 feet of water, and all protected in the best manner against riflemen on shore. With such a naval force in that bay, in co-operation with a suitable land force, the only true campaign in this section could be made. Look at the map. Berwick Bay leads into Grand Lake, Grand Lake into the Atchafalaya, the Atchafalaya into Red River. Boats drawing not more than 4 or 5 feet, and in the force I mention, with a proper land force, could clear out the Atchafalaya, Red River, and Black River.

All communications from Vicksburg and Port Hudson cross this line indicated by me. By taking it in the manner I propose Vicksburg and Port Hudson would be a cipher to the rebels. It would be a campaign that 100,000 men could not to so easily fight and so successfully. It is an operations to which the taking of Galveston Island is a cipher and the capture of the Mobile Bay forts a nonentity. I am so fully impressed with the importance of this operation that I must request the Department to send a copy of this communication to Admiral Farragut and to the general-in-chief of the Army. The rebels, seeing the importance of this line, are now fortifying Butte-a-la-Rose, a knoll surrounded by an almost inaccessible swamp on the Atchafalaya and not far from its entrance into Grand Lake.

I solemnly protest against the removal of a single boat from Berwick Bay, and insist upon it that it is our duty at once to place them in the most efficient condition.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. WEITZEL,

Brigadier-General, United States Volunteers.

WASHINGTON, D. C., January 18, 1863.

Major General N. P. BANKS,

Commanding, &c., New Orleans:

GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your three communications of January 7, with inclosures.*

So far as they relate to the conduct of Brigadier-General Hamilton I am directed by the Secretary of War to say in reply that General Hamilton's commission of Governor of Texas will be revoked.

In relation to your proposed military operations I have little or nothing to add to the instructions already given. It is probable that General Grant will order a new attack upon Vicksburg in about two weeks with large re-enforcements. It is hoped that you may be able to co-operate, if not by sending him assistance direct to Vicksburg, at least by keeping a large force of the enemy employed at Port Hudson. The opening of the Mississippi River is the first and great object of military and naval operations at the Southwest, and every possible effort must be made to accomplish that object, to the neglect if need be of all minor considerations. It has been suggested that steam transports could be sent up from Berwick Bay to the Mississippi above Port Hudson, the gunboats run by the forts, and the troops at Baton Rouge cross the

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*See pp.200-205, 639, 642, and 643.

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