GRENADA, February 20, 1863.
I received a dispatch from one of [my] scouts, dated February 19, and within 2 miles of the Pass, where the Federals are at work; says they are progressing slowly with the work, and that Captain Forrest thinks it will take them seven or eight days to cut through; and, from the best information, they have about 6,000, with three transports.
J. Z. GEORGE.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF Mississippi AND EASTERN LOUISIANA, Jackson, February 20, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel S. W. FERGUSON:
SIR: A few days since instructions were sent you in case you find that your position on the river could not be maintained, you should return. The same are now reiterated. I leave it to your judgment to determine the advisability of remaining or returning, inasmuch as no further supporting force can be now sent you. Admiral Porter's notice, threatening to treat as highwaymen and assassins persons who may be found interrupting the navigation of the Mississippi River, and giving no quarter to any person found burning cotton or levying contribution on the inhabitants along the river, has been forwarded by General Stevenson to me. You are authorized to say to Captain Sutherland, or any other Federal officers, that if this threat is carried out, retaliation in the fullest measure will be visited on the heads of such Federal officers and prisoners as I have, or may hereafter fall into my hands. I shall direct General Stevenson to notify Admiral Porter that any attempt to carry into effect this notice will be retaliated in the same manner upon such prisoners as I now have or may hereafter fall into my hands.
I am, very respectfully,
J. C. PEMBERTON.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WESTERN LOUISIANA, Alexandria, La., February 20, 1863.
Lieutenant General J. C. PEMBERTON,
Comdg. Dept. of Mississippi, &c.:
GENERAL: I seize the first opportunity of advising you of the state of affairs here. Every facility was afforded to Lieutenant Colonel [W. S.] Lovell to enable him to equip the Webb and Grand Duke. He will report to you in person. The cost of the Grand Duke will be paid, I suppose, by your department, as I will send the boat to you. The Federal ram Queen of the WEST was scarcely injured in her engagement with my battery on the Red River. Struck thirteen times; only one shot affected her by cutting a steam-pipe. She left here last night to attack the Federal boat now lying at or near the mouth of Red River. One of my staff is in command, with orders to attack at all hazards. I confidently expect to hear of the capture or destruction of the enemy's boat. The Queen of the WEST will then proceed to Vicksburg, to attempt to destroy the enemy's battery, if it be not already removed. We must maintain our communications at any cost. You have doubtless learned from General Gardner that I have succeeded in throwing several car goes of supplies into Port Hudson since the first boat passed Vicksburg; he was probably in great need of them. I have several boats loaded for him, which will go out, taking our gunboat. My battery on the Atchafalaya at