War of the Rebellion: Serial 025 Page 0722 WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS. Chapter XXIX.

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of light-draught iron-clad gunboats now being constructed on the Ohio, a formidable demonstration against Vicksburg will ne made at no distant day. The magnitude of the interest which impels the Federal Government to preserve in the endeavor to break through this barrier to the commerce of the Northwest has been apprehended by many-has not been fully appreciated by the Confederate Government. I have felt it my duty to direct a careful examination and report of the existing defenses of Vicksburg, with the view of strengthing them by the addition of such auxiliary works as it might be expedient to establish.

The report of the chief engineer, herewith transmitted, indicates that it is scarcely expedient to establish a battery at the bend of the river above, in consequence of the labor involved, the additional force necessary to protect it, and the long reach of the arm of the river above the bend. It is well understood, as a military principle, that the protection of the town is of minor importance in comparison with the obstruction of the navigation of the river, on which point the report is not entirely explicit. There is reason to believe that a field work of considerable magnitude placed at the neck of the bend opposite Vicksburg, with two detached batteries flanking the river above and below, would prove of very great service as an auxiliary to the defense. The establishment of these works, however, would involve the necessity of having a land force of from 5,000 to 10,000 men to man them and defend that bank of the river, especially the canal, which has been in part already opened by the enemy. It is to be hoped that the importance which the enemy attaches to the question of the unobstructed navigation of the Mississippi has received due consideration, and that early measures will be taken to perfect the details connected with the defense. The defense of the Yazoo River and the extensive fertile region embraced between it and the Mississippi River is a matter of great importance, requiring prompt action and consideration. Details connected with this district will be forwarded at an early moment. The defensive position assumed at Port Hudson, La., has been fortified as rapidly as possible with the means provided. Some fifteen heavy guns are already in position on the east bank of the river, and other guns with ammunition are being forwarded as rapidly as possible. The position is naturally strong, and easily defended from attacks by water and favorable for defensive disposition by land. I respectfully recommend that an auxiliary force of 1,000 infantry, one battery of field guns, and 100 cavalry be placed on the right bank to co-operate with the defenses on the left, especially at any period when an immediate attack of the enemy is anticipated. The accompanying map will show the outline of the position. The accompanying requisition for guns and munitions is recommended to favorable consideration. The intervening portion of the Mississippi River between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, as well as the Red River remaining in our uninterrupted possession, will prove of the greatest importance to the Confederate Government connected with the transit of supplies, especially subsistence from the west.

Before leaving the District of East Louisiana I directed Colonel Marigny to establish a temporary camp in Ascension Parish, some 35 miles below Baton Rouge, with the view of overcoming the reputed demoralization of the people controlling intercourse with the enemy, filling up our ranks with conscripts and volunteers, and as a preliminary measure in any plan connected with operations having in view the recovery of New Orleans. The present campaign on the Northern Mississippi border involves so many important considerations coming under the special jurisdiction of the commanding general of the army in the field