Opelousas; all soon to arrive; heard (but from no reliable source, through four officers) that Kirby Smith would soon arrive with two brigades Louisiana troops from Port Hudson; saw two new batteries at New Iberia, just arrived from Alexandria (brass pieces, six in each battery); the regiments mentioned in letter comprising in all, in Saint Mary's Parish, 3,000 men, exclusive of the two new batteries. The Hart, a medium-sized steamer, is at New Iberia; sw her on Monday, at 3 p. m.; no one at work on her then; her machinery exposed to view (the front), protected by railroad iron; country destitute of provisions; troops will starve in three months.
I also submit a sketch drawn by the prisoner of the stations of troops, of which he has had personal cognizance, except at Fausse Point and Butte-a-la-Rose, and of those, from the information given him, he has no doubt the forces stated are at those points. I am inclined to place reliance in the statements he has made.
The accompanying letter in reference to the capture of the Queen of the West,* was among other papers brought by him. He states that he heard the report from several, and he believes it to be true.
Brigadier-General and Provost-Marshal-General.
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Baton Rouge, La., February 26, 1863.
Lieutenant Col. RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Department of the Gulf:
SIR: I have the honor to report that, the exception of transportation, I consider my division in fit condition to take the field. If all the available force in this department is massed here at an early date, I have no doubt but that we can cut off the enemy's force at Port Hudson. If their supplies from the Red River are cut off by the navy, and their supplies from the interior by as movement of the army to their rear, they will be forced to meet us on our own ground or to surrender. They have not now, and they cannot for some time, I think, have enough force to do that. I think their force at Port Hudson has been overestimated, and I do not think that much reliance can be placed upon their constcrips at present. I am informed by an intelligent man belonging to the Twelfth Maine Volunteers, and who recently escaped from Port Hudson, that the plan of building a raft in the river to enable them to cross, if found necessary to evacuate in consequence of our cutting off their supplies and their retreat inland, has been discussed, and it is quite probable that an attempt may be made to do it.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 5, 1863.
Major-General BANKS, New Orleans, La.:
GENERAL: The last dispatches received from you to-day are dated February 23.* Some of previous dates were received yesterday.