War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0292 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter XXXVIII.

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should not have returned, but should have continued to the point indicated for landing upon the coast, as contemplated in the instructions. This would have been done but for the withdrawal of the two boats that were free after the loss of the Sachem and the Clifton. The expedition sailed from the Mississippi on the 4th of September, and returned attempt, the failure having given notice to the enemy of our purposes, and enabled him to concentrate his forces against us. I therefore directed the movement of the troops across Berwick Bay, with a view to an overland movement into Texas. The deficiency of transportation, the removal of the numerous obstructions to the navigation of the Teche, and the difficult of obtaining supplies, made it impracticable for us to reach Opelousas until this date.

We are now in position for a movement westward into Texas and northward to Northeastern Texas, by the way of Shreveport. The resources of the whole of this country are completely and thoroughly destroyed by the enemy. To the Sabine, we have a march from Opelousas and Vermillionville of between 100 and 200 miles, without water, without supplies, and without other transportation than by wagons. At Niblett's Bluff, on the Sabine, we shall encounter all the possible force of the enemy in the State of Texas, and a powerful enemy hanging upon our rear throughout the whole march, which is now waiting for us between Alexandria and Opelousas. From the Sabine to Houston is 100 miles, making altogether a march of from 250 to 300 miles. By the way of Alexandria and Shreveport to Marshall, which is the nearest point on the other route, we have a march of from 350 to 400 miles in that direction, without other communication than by wagon train, and through a country utterly depleted of all its material resources. Either of these routes present almost insuperable difficulties. It is not good policy to fight an absent enemy in a desert country, if it can be avoided.

While the army is preparing itself for one or the other of these movements, I propose to attempt a lodgment upon some point on the coast from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Rio Grande. The gunboat Tennessee was dispatched by Commodore Bell for this purpose on the 29th. A careful and intelligent engineer, Captain Baker, accompanied the expedition. The Tennessee returned to New Orleans on the 16th instant. The report was most favorable for operations upon the Gulf coast, and the difficulties, although great, much less than those presented upon either of the land routes, by the way of Niblett's Bluff to Houston, or to Alexandria, Shreveport, and Marshall, and, if it is successful, the results must be far more important than could be obtained by getting possession of the town of Marshall in Northeastern Texas. I have therefore determined to make an expedition for the purpose of landing between Sabine and the Rio Grande, most probably at the latter point. The expedition will sail to-morrow morning (23d) at 9 o'clock. The troops, about 3,500 in number, are under the command of Major-General Dana. I accompany the expedition myself, and am confident of its success. The earliest possible communication will be made to you of its results. This expedition will produce exactly the same results as beginning at the Rio Grande and moving eastward, instead of at the Sabine, moving westward.

I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.