squadron of cavalry in every part of the State within our lines, upon which his commission was depending, and his statement will show you what supply of horses are now to be found here. Colonel Chandler also will report the facts to you in relation to transportation.
I regret to say that water transportation is as deficient as that required for land operations. Seizing all the steamers on the river, and suspending its navigation except for coastwise and foreign trade, we have at our command only twelve or thirteen vessels, mostly decayed and helpless boats.
I cannot understand how river transportation here should be reduced to so low an amount. Be assured, general, that while I represent the facts I make no complaint, and shall make no delay on account of existing deficiencies in our supplies, and whatever is needed for the Government service will be taken for the army without a moment's hesitation. Nothing has been and nothing will be left in private hands which is useful or necessary to the public.
It will be of great service, however, if light-draught steamers could be sent here. Business is increasing and will bring them, but this takes time. Our transport and dispatch boat service extends from Pensacola to the Rio Grande, and fills the whole State with bayous, lakes, rivers, and bays. The steamers we have at hand are wholly inadequate to this work.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Baton Rouge, La., February 26, 1863.
LieutenantCol. RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. Dept. of the Gulf:
SIR: I have the honor to report that, with the exception of transportation, I consider my division in fit condition to take the field. If all the available force in this department is massed here at an early date I have no doubt but that we can cut off the enemy's force at Port Hudson. If their supplies from the Red River are cut off by the Navy and their supplies from the interior by a movement of the Army to their rear they will be forced to meet us on our own ground or to surrender. They have not now and they cannot for some time, I think, have enough force to do that. I think their force at Port Hudson has been overestimated, and I do not think that much reliance can be placed upon their conscripts at present. I am informed by an intelligent man belonging to the Twelfth Maine Volunteers, and who recently escaped from Port Hudson, that the plan of building a raft in the river to enable them to cross, if found necessary to evacuate in consequence of our cutting off their supplies and their retreat inland, has been discussed, and it is quite probable that an attempt may be to do it.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
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