War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0387 Chapter XXXVIII. OPERATIONS IN THE TECHE COUNTRY, LA.

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If this be the case, the enemy are going the west road to Niblett's, crossing the Vermillion and Mementon at the lower ferries, and using these streams and the Calcasieu to run in supplies to their column by light craft. He may then move his masses well together, and render it impossible for me to bring him to action without encountering an overwhelming force. He could entirely abandon one base as soon as another was reached. Could General Magruder send a force to the Calcasieu, or even this dide,he could not only materially delay the enemy's movements, but might very likely capture a fleet of supplies or destroy a pontoon train. Such a force could always fall back on Niblett's as its base. The conformation of the country prevents me from sending a force for the purpose indicated, as the enemy, marching by the west road, throws me on my exterior lines.

I will communicate to this effect to General Magruder, and respectfully request that the lieutenant- general commanding will do so in addition, if he approve the views expressed.*

Respectfully your obedient servant,

R. TAYLOR,

Major- General.

Brigadier General W. R. BOGGS,

Chief of Staff.

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WESTERN LOUISIANA,

Opelousas, October 11, 1863.

GENERAL: I have just returned from the front of my army, and have clearly ascertained the position of the enemy, and am enabled to estimate his (approximate) strength. Franklin's Army Corps (Nineteenth), with one brigade of the Thirteenth Corps (Washburn's), is above the Vermillion Bridge, about 1 1\2 miles below Vermillionville. Washburn's corps is within easy supporting distance of Franklin. I think Franklin's strength is about 10,000; the Thirteenth is somewhat larger.

The priest from Abbeville to- day reports that he met on the 10th, on the road from New Iberia to Abeville, a force of some 2,000 mounted men, escorting a pontoon train. If this be the case, the enemy are going by the Coast road to Niblett's Bluff, crossing the Vermillion and Mermenton at the lower ferries, and using these streams and the Calcasieu to run in supplies to their column by light craft. He may then move his masses well together, and render it impossible for me to bring him to action without encountering an overwhelming force. He could entirely abandon one base as soon as another was reached. If you can send a force to the Calcasieu, or even this side of that stream, you cannot only materially delay the enemy's movements, but might very likely capture a fleet of supplies or destroy a pontoon train. Such a force could always fall back on Niblett's Bluff as its base. The conformation of the country prevents me from sending a force for the purpose indicated, as the enemy, marching by the Coast road, throws me on very exterior lines. I will endeavor from time to time to advise you of all the movements of the enemy which I can ascertain. When I received your communication relative to sending Major Rountree's cavalry to you, it was impossible to do so, as it was then across the Atchafalaya, with the expedition under General Green which terminated so successfully. At

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*Copy transmitted by Smith to Magruder, October 15, 1863.

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