WASHINGTON, February 2, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding, &c., New Orleans:
GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of January 15, with inclosures.
As stated in the reports which you have forwarded, your army is not fully supplied with land transportation; but as all your present operations will be on or near water communications it is believed that a deficiency of land transportation should not retard your movements. The companies of cavalry intended for your command which are ready will be sent to you by steam as expeditiously as possible. You will remember, however, that this is very expensive, as nearly one-half of the horses are at this season lost on the voyage and the other half not fit for service on arrival. General Meigs is assured by the former quartermaster of Major-General Butler that 4,000 or 5,000 horses and mules can be collected in a short time in the country occupied by our troops, and that carts and wagons suitable for the temporary purposes of land transportation can be collected in New Orleans and the neighboring plantations. Under existing circumstances it is necessary that you supply yourself as much as possible from the country occupied.
General Grant's forces have been for some time operating in the vicinity of Vicksburg, and the President expects that you will permit no obstacle to prevent you from co-operating with him by some movement up the Mississippi River. Of such vital importance is this co-operations that nothing but absolute necessity will excuse any further delay on your part.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK.*
FRENIER STATION, February 11, 1863.
Lieutenant J. H. METCALF,
A. A. A. G., Third Brigade:
I received an order through your office (Sunday evening, the 8th instant) to send out a scouting party to ascertain the position of the enemy's pickets, their actual force, &c. I detailed First Lieutenant George W. Worster and 10 men to start the next morning with ten days' rations. I gave him orders to find their pickets and capture one or more of them, if possible, He started by way of the lake with the only two boats we had and with a head wind. He was obliged to put in at the De Sair Station, 6 miles above this place, and change one of his boats. He then set out for Pass Manchac; arrived at the North Pass early Tuesday morning. They went up the pass to within half a mile of the bridge, landed, and made their way on foot up to the railroad. They arrived at the road about sunrise, rested themselves, examined the country, and found by examination that it had been frequented by some persons, and the lieutenant concluded it best to spend the day watching for their pickets, as he left sure they were in the habit of frequenting the place he was then in. About 10 o'clock he discovered 5 armed men approaching. He immediately ordered 5 of his men to advance through the woods and get in their rear. This order was promptly obeyed, but owing to the easy access to shelter 4 out of the 5 made their escape.
The prisoner taken is thus far very non-committal. He says he is a private of Company C, Second Arkansas Regiment, Captain Thomas Cochran, commanding. He says there are two more companies of the same
*Answered February 19. See Appendix, p.1099.