them freely and reward you may think proper for their services in money and I will furnish you the funds. I desire you to advance as far as you think safe, and if it requires more than one day's march in advance the time is at your disposal. Bring back all the negroes.
I have the honor to be, yours, respectfully,
N. P. BANKS,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Opelousas, La., April 23, 1863.
Admiral FARRAGUT, Flag-Ship Hartford:
MY DEAR ADMIRAL: Accept my thanks for your dispatch of April 6,* which I received on the 21st instant with the dispatches of General Grant. Accept my congratulations upon yours success in controlling the open sea between Vicksburg and Port Hudson. The blockade of the Red River is a most important affair to our arms. We have now achieved the freedom of the Atchafalaya, of which we have spoken so much together, and I hope at no distant time to communicate with you through that route.
The gunboats under command of Lieutenant Cooke captured Buttea-la-Rose on the 20th instant. You have doubtless had a full report of this affair. The engagement was short, but decisive. We captured their guns, considerable ammunition, the commander of the post, and 60 prisoners. This gives us the entire control of the Atchafalaya and the Red River. Since we parted at Baton Rouge I have accomplished the design which was interrupted by your enterprise for passing the batteries. Immediately upon the achievement of that distinguished success by your own ship and the Albatross we recommended our undertaking. On the 12th of April we were before the fortifications at Camp Bisland, where we commenced and engagement with the enemy which lasted tow days. Our men behaved splendidly and have achieved at every point a complete success. The works would have been assaulted on the morning of their evacuation. They commenced their retreat at about 12 o'clock at night, and we followed them at 3 o'clock in the morning. Grover's division had landed near Indian Bend with the intention of intercepting their retreat at Franklin, but the difficulties of transportation and landing prevented his reaching that point within a few hours, and the enemy escaped with his artillery and cavalry. The infantry has been almost entirely dispersed. We have captured nearly 2,000 prisoners, more than 1,000 stand of small arms, twenty siege guns, including one field gun, considerable ammunition, and the chiefs of the three arms of the rebel service: Captain Fuller, commanding the fleet; Captain Semmes, commanding the artillery; and Colonel Vincent, command the cavalry. We compelled them to destroy the Diana and Hart, and the fleet commanded by Lieutenant Cooke sunk the Queen of the West in the contest for the possession of Butte-a-la-Rosa, on Grand Lake. We have captured more than 10,000 head of cattle, and horses and mules sufficient for the entire service of the army. It will be impossible for the enemy to reorganize his forces in this department at present.
We are anxiously waiting to hear from General Grant. With the force
*See Inclosure No. 3. to Banks report of April 23, p. 301.