position at the North Pass; pickets from thence thrown out on the railroad toward Ponchatoula.
Several companies occupy the south side of South Pass. Communication with island yet very precarious, no good ferry yet having been fixed. The peninsula (De Sair and Frenier Stations) occupied by a few companies. An enemy that has means of transportation can take the whole position in reserve from either side. An enemy with such means can also enter the Pass from Lake Pontchartrain and cut off communication by water.
The railroad is in operation no farther than De Sair Station, 7 miles from the Pass.
Whilst the railroad is being completed and the battery designed at the South Pass is being constructed great dependence was placed in the Barataria and the Corypheus. The Corypheus is a sail vessel, carrying two guns, and is now alone to depend on.
The greatest attention must now be paid to secure this position, and until railroad is completed water transportation must be used to send stores, &c., to the Pass, and enough must be kept in the Pass to insure rapid communication with the island. The steamer Brown should be on the lake at once; she can carry a few guns.
I shall try to get the Corypheus to go up at once and see if the wreck of the Barataria can be reclaimed, or, if not, to insure her total destruction. In the mean time some means must be taken to prevent these vessels from being caught in Lake Maurepas by any blockade the enemy might contrive to make at the Mouth of the Passes.
I will at once see what can be contrived in the way of transportation.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. W. SHERMAN,
WASHINGTON, April 9, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
GENERAL: Your dispatch No. 8, of March 27, is just received:
You will have learned long before this reaches you that Admiral Farragut reached Warrenton in safety and is in communication with Admiral Porter and General Grant. It was expected that he would soon be able to collect a sufficient force below Vicksburg to control the Mississippi between that place and Port Hudson, and also to destroy the enemy's steamers in Red River. The flooded condition of the country has greatly embarrassed and delayed the operations of General Grant.
I have urged the latter, and will repeat the same to you, to give but little [attention] to the occupation of the country. Troops should garrison no part not absolutely essential to the success of his plan of operations. The great object should now be to concentrate his forces so as to strike the enemy an important blow. As soon as you have determined from your reconnaissances upon which side of the river you will operate all your available forces should be massed upon that line.
Some additional companies of cavalry were recently sent to you. Every department is urgently asking for an increase of this arm. We will assist you all we possibly can, but the organization of cavalry forces is very slow.
It is hoped that the operations at Charleston have by this time been