safe, and a chance for us to make up all our losses, and answer. If we carry out what I have undertaken there is a fortune. The means, and plenty of it, will go from here. I will have to remain here to see everything through and further arrange matters with my friends. We will write you to-day via Tampico, and also in a day or two via Havana to New York. Marks, now is the time for you and us. Believe me, there is hundreds would like to have same chance, and, as I say, no risk; as I deliver, they will deliver us also. Try to get up an assorted cargo again and with more imperials as in the last. Must close. Write us by every way possible, as we must shortly hear from your or one of us must go even to Europe to see you.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF.
Respectfully forwarded, as having an important bearing on the character of the existing trade of Matamoras.
N. P. BANKS,
By RICH'D B. IRWIN,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, January 24, 1863.
Commander-in-Chief U. S. Army:
GENERAL: The inclosed dispatch from the mouth of the river causes much solicitude in regard to the southern defenses of the city. The vessel referred to is supposed to have been the Alabama, and her movements, with the escape of the Oreta from Mobile and the uncertainty as to the position of the Harriet Lane, no news having been received from Galveston, affords some reason for the impression that an attack from the south is contemplated. This is strengthened by reports received in various ways of a contemplated movement of the rebel land forces from the Red River country.
We are prepared for them all, however. The forts (Jackson and Saint Philip) have been strengthened as much as possible since my arrival, and a general plan of defenses adopted, which is being executed with all dispatch. I have before referred to the condition in which I found all the forts in this portion of the department. The deficiencies have been remedied as far as possible.
The naval force here is insufficient. Admiral Farragut has represented his wants to the Navy Department. Recent events in the Gulf make it imperatively necessary that his fleet should be strengthened.
The rebel force at Port Hudson and its vicinity is larger than I can bring against it, leaving a sufficient number of men from the defense of the city and the La Fourche District. I intend an immediate movement with all the force I can spare in the direction of Red River. This if successful, will cut off many of their supplies and render the position less important and impregnable than now to the forces I have in hand. I shall lose no time in this.
Nothing is heard here from Vicksburg.