It is doubtful if we can supply your forces from New Orleans in operating above Port Hudson, on account of our deficient transportation. My belief is that the best junction is by the Atchafalaya. We can reach Baton Rouge by the Grand River and the Plaquemine without transshipment, and, our forces united, make the reduction of Port Hudson certain. My own command is insufficient.
Waiting anxiously your response, and with full confidence in your judgment and earnest co-operation, I am, very truly, yours,
N. P. BANKS.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, Opelousas, La., April 23, 1863.
Major-General GRANT, Comdg. Forces before Vicksburg:
GENERAL: Further reflection upon my letter of this date, and additional information as to the condition of the country on this line, leads me to urge more strongly the point of junction indicated at its close, viz, by the Atchafalaya, Grand River, and Plaquemine Bayou to Baton Rouge. We are now 180 miles from New Orleans. It is with great difficulty that we obtain supplies now. Corn and beef are our chief support. To extend this line a hundred miles farther, as it will be on the Red River, increases the difficulty, and to push it farther still to the opposite side of the Mississippi at Bayou Sara, will render supplies very insecure, if not impossible. I commend this subject to your earnest consideration.
By the Atchafalaya all difficulties of this kind are obviated. Supplies of ammunition and provisions are secured; a perfect field of operations is in our possession, and the united forces make the result we wish certain. There are insuperable difficulties to encounter on the other line from the extent of the operations and the deficiencies of transportation. They cannot be too carefully weighed, nor too much consideration given to the advantages presented by the more southerly route. Let me say that all my ideas on the subject have been changed by my experience in this campaign.
Inclosed I send a map indicating the route proposed for
co-operation, and also our line of march in this campaign. *
I have the honor, general, to subscribe myself, faithfully, your friend,
N. P. BANKS.
FLAG-SHIP BENTON, Off New Carthage, April 23, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT, Commanding,&c.:
DEAR GENERAL: Feeling that something was going on at Grand Gulf that should be stopped, I went down with the whole squadron to reconnoiter. A strong fort (at present mounting three guns only) pointing up the river was a part of the extensive works now under way. I went down in the Lafayette and drove the workers out; that fort did not fire at us, but one below it did; also one lower still. Three rifled shot went over the Lafayette after I left. The rebels had a steamer (the Charm) down, bringing supplies. We drove her away before she had time to land them. These forts are only partly finished; in a week they will be formidable.
I found a preacher (half Union man), who was just from Grand Gulf.
15 R R-VOL XXIV, PT. III