War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0718 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter

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Off Red River, May 4, 1863.

Major General N. P. BANKS,

Commanding Department of the Gulf:

DEAR GENERAL: The ram Switzerland returned last night, accompanied by Admiral Porter and four iron-clads, and he will be at Alexandria before you can possibly bet there. He took Grand Gulf after a hard fight of five hours; found there heavy preparations for fortifying that place.

I trust you will be able to Alexandria as nearly as possible at the same time with Porter. I send you the dispatches of General Grant.

As soon as Alexandria falls I wish to be at work below Port Hudson. Porter above and my fleet below and a moderate army force in the rear, and Port Hudson must fall. I do not think there are 12,000 men there; they sent 5,000 men to Grand Gulf. We captured 400 soldiers at Grand Gulf.

I am told that the iron-clads are on their way down to me, and it will rest with me to decide whether I shall attack Port Hudson or Mobile first. I will consult with you when I go down. I have been waiting for the return of my gunboats, which I sent up to Fort De Russy, so as to give you correct information on the subject of their defenses, and also in relation to Kirby Smith's troops from Arkansas. Porter does not believe he will get them.

Later.- While writing the above you aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Sargent, arrived with a dispatch for General Grant and one for myself. I shall not need the Sachem or Calhoun up here, now that Admiral Porter takes the expedition in charge; and he will also take charge of the river between Port Hudson and Vicksburg, while I shall proceed down the river as soon as circumstances will admit and look to my squadron below, which I have so long neglected; but I think it will be to the advantage of the country in the general result. As Admiral Porter has concluded to go up this evening I shall not detain your aide any longer to await the result of my reconnaissance, but will dispatch him at once.

Very respectfully and truly,




Opelousas, May 5, 1863.

Brigadier General M. C. MEIGS,


It may occasion some surprise, general, that my representations of the condition of affairs in this department should differ so entirely from those presented by Colonel Shaffer. My statement nevertheless is far short of the truth. When I came here it was as bare of military supplies as it was at the date of the creation of the world. We have suffered much anxiety and performed much labor to remove the embarrassment resting upon us. They are in a great degree overcome. The campaign upon which we entered on the 1st of April has resulted in supplying our wants to a very great extent. We have plenty of cattle, mules, and horses, and shall not ask any assistance from the Government in these respects. We have also plenty of land transportation, and