Of the above 129 horses, 80 only have been receipted for; the remainder were taken from officers, soldiers, and camp followers and negroes, who were using the animals and could not claim or show title for them. I have taken every serviceable horse that could be found in the parishes of La Fourche, Saint Charles, Saint John Baptist, and Terre Bonne. On several occasions, as per index of names, I have given mules i exchange to the poor agriculturists, in order not to leave them without means of tilling the soil.
The scarcity of serviceable horses I can only explain by the following facts: The district of Louisiana in possession of the United States forces is not a stock-raising country. On the large plantations mules are exclusively used for farming, and throughout the parish of Terre Bonne and others the poor non-slaveholding population have only Texan and Mexican mustang poinies, which are all unfit for cavalry or artillery purposes. A few race-horses and the horses used by the planters and overseer for their personal convenience would at any time be about the only animals fit for military purposes, and most of this class were driven off by the rebels, and the few remaining have been already taken by the first United States forces occupying the country.
In conclusion, I may add that, having visited nearly every spot within our lines, I can safely say that no further dependence should be placed on providing the army with stock from the rural districts of Louisiana.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major and Acting Assistant Quartermaster.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, No. 57. New Orleans, February 26, 1863.
I. Major General Christopher C. Augur will proceed without delay to Baton Rouge and assume command of the forces at that point. He will report in person to the commanding general for special instructions.
* * * * * * *
By command of Major-General Banks:
RICH'D B. IRWIN,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., February 26, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
GENERAL: Admiral Farragut has determined to run the batteries at Port Hudson with his fleet, of the double purpose of establishing communication with the fleet at Vicksburg and destroying boat and batteries between Vicksburg and Port Hudson. This is likely to be accomplished in a few days. It seems probable that it can be done without great risk. The land forces will co-operate with him by a demonstration in full force on the land side of the enemy's works at Pot Hudson. The loss of the Queen of the Weds and the reported capture of the Conestoga give importance to this movement.
General Emory's advance upon the Atchafalaya will be deferred, but