other two are crossed and attack in front. If Mouton escapes (which I think, if properly conducted, will be doubtful) we form a junction at Indian Ben. We proceed to attack and with much superior force (because I do not believe Mouton and Sibley united will exceed 6,000 men). We can defeat them, pursue our success to Alexandria, and of course get Butte-a-la-Rose; our gunboats, to facilitate its fall, attacking it, as they cannot accompany us farther up than Saint Martinville. I believe this to be the true and on correct plan of the campaign, and hence these views are submitted.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., February 16, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
SIR: Upon assuming command of this department I found the disposition of troops at Pensacola and in that vicinity substantially as follows: Three regiments of infantry, say 1,300, for duty in the city of Pensacola; two companies of the Second Artillery at Fort Barrancas and three companies of the same regiment at Fort Pickens. The forces at Forts Pickens and Barrancas combined reported 263 for duty.
Reflection upon this subject, confirmed by the opinions of officers who have studied the position and upon whose judgment I rely, satisfied me that this disposition was founded in the radical error of placing the main force at a comparatively unimportant point, by no means the key of the position, and leaving the salient points defended by minimum garrisons. I regard the occupation of the town of Pensacola by the bulk of our forces as unwise, for the reason that we can hold the point with a third of the force, unless the enemy attacks in large numbers and with determination, in which case the whole force would not suffice for the purpose; that if, expecting such an attack, we attempted to defend it in this manner we should be cut off from the forts and from retreat, leaving two position of great national importance, defended by 263 men, open to attack, and one of them (Barrancas) to probable capture; and, finally, that this occupation of a town without purpose tends greatly to the demoralization of the command.
I have therefore dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Abert, inspector-general of this department, to Pensacola, with written instructions, should he find the condition of things in that district to correspond with my impression, to put in force the following disposition: City of Pensacola, 400 men, infantry; Fort Barrancas and its redoubt, one regiment of infantry and one regular battery-say two companies of the Second Artillery-and Fort Pickens and Santa Rosa Island, the remainder of the infantry-say one regiment and three companies of the Second Artillery.
With Lieutenant-Colonel Abert, as a demonstration induced by recent reports of an intended attack on Pensacola, I have sent the Twenty-eighth Maine, Colonel Woodman, for temporary service only, to be posted where Colonel Abert may deem best, and to return here in season to aid our river movements, if necessary.
Since my No. 3 of this morning a report reaches me, which I should be sorry to believe, that the enemy has been re-enforced at Port Hudson