not permit the camps or property of the troops now absent to be interfered with. The officer commanding the First Louisiana Native Guards will hold his regiment in readiness to move at a moment's notice with two days' cooked rations.
By command of Major-General Augur:
GEO. B. HALSTED,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Simsport, La., May 21, 1863.
Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: Recent occupation of this country as far as Natchitoches gives us reason to believe that at no distant day it can be permanently occupied and held with a small force, controlling substantially the entire northern part of the State. With the aid of transports and gunboats of light draught, this could be done without difficulty. This, apart from other considerations, makes the railway communication in this portion of the State a matter of increased importance.
The railway is now in operation as far as Brashear City, a distance of 80 miles. It is vigorously managed, has plenty of business, and is run for the profit of the Government. There are great quantities of the staple products of the country still remaining in the northern part of the State. If they are not destroyed by the advancing cavalry force of the enemy, which follows our movements toward the Mississippi, these products will all be transported to New Orleans, or a greater part by railroad.
This Opelousas Railroad is intended to reach Alexandria; from this northwardly to ---, and westwardly to the principal towns in Texas. The grade is complete and perfect as far as from Berwick Bay to Opelousas, the bridges mostly built, and ties prepared and on the ground, the iron rails only wanting. We have labor enough, with the negro regiments, to complete this work, if it is to be done by the Government. In the case of the reoccupation of this country, or the restoration of this State to the Union, it would be advisable that this road should be completed either by the Government or by private parties. I think I can say that at no distant day the country east of the Mississippi, extending as far as and into the State of Mississippi, and covering the line of railroad from Jackson to Mobile, will be held. This road, following the tendency of the time, has been destroyed to an unnecessary degree by our troops, but we can easily repair it. The two lines together make a very important railway interest for this department. I have no complaint to make of its management, and no fear as to its efficiency hereafter; but there is not that responsibility and accountability in the management of so large an undertaking which should be established, both for the protection of the officers of this department and the Government.
I desire very earnestly that General [Daniel C.] McCallum, or the chief of the Railway Bureau, may send to this department a competent officer, who will understand enough of railway management to organize the different departments of a railway bureau, so that each department may operate as a check upon the others, and thus by a report of the superintendent present to the Government not only an accurate but a responsible statement of all the operations of the road-the receipts and the expenditures and the responsibilities which