HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Alexandria, May 8, 1863.
DEAR SIR: I shall remain here a few days until communication can be opened with General Grant and the chances of co-operation with him be ascertained. In the mean time we desire to be active, and shall move toward Shreveport, giving the enemy impression that we advance to that point. Cannot the lighter gunboats now with you, such as the Clifton, Reliance, or Sachem, be sent to us, for the purpose of moving up the Red River as far as may be safe and practicable? Without loosing time, this may give us important results, possibly to drive the enemy from the road to Shreveport, in the direction of Niblett's Bluff, on the Sabine River. I commend this to your consideration.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
Alexandria, May 8, 1863-8 a. m.
DEAR SIR: My command reached Alexandria yesterday without opposition, the advance entering the town early in the afternoon. Admiral Porter, with his fleet and several of Admiral Farragut's boats, took possession of the town yesterday morning without resistance.*
I have stated to him that I can furnish his fleet, that of Admiral Farragut, and your transports with coal, and your army partially with provisions, by the Atchafalaya and Red River; but it will be difficult. If Port Hudson is reduced all this can be done direct from new Orleans, and our future operations will proceed without interruption from want of supplies and certain success.
In answer to your dispatch received in cipher I replied I could co-operate with you on the 25th instant or the 1st of June. Our successful march here enables me to do this on the 25th May. I shall have 15,000 good men, all told. We can move by the Bayou Sara to the rear of Port Hudson, get our supplies from Baton Rouge, where Major-General Augur can join us with 4,000 men.
The fleet of Admiral Porter above, that of Admiral Farragut below, and our forces in the rear, or so many of yours as you can spare, the fall of the post will be instant and certain.
I beg your most favorable consideration to this matter.
Lieutenant-Colonel Irwin, my adjutant, will explain my views more in detail.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, general, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF ARIZONA,
Hart's Mill, Tex., May 8, 1863.
Captain JOHN C. McFERRAN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Santa Fe:
CAPTAIN: The instructions contained in a communication from the
*See p. 313.