HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION,
May 24, 1862-11 p. m.
Chief of Staff, Nineteenth Army Corps:
GENERAL: Our lines is now formed on the line of rifle-pits, and our line of skirmishers occupy the opposite edge of the wood, about threefourths of a mile in advance. This line looks upon an open space nearly half mile in width, on the opposite side of which is the enemy's second line of works.
We have not been able to reconnoiter on account of night, but shall feel them before morning.
The approaches to these works appear of some difficulty; the only avenue over which artillery can be taken having its bridges burnt, we are rebuilding them. The communication to the river is difficult, and the distance by the road about 3 miles. Here, however, appear in sight works that are said to be their only line at that point. But it was so dark we were unable to examine them.
A further reconnaissance will be made in the morning.
Very respectfully, &c.,
T. W. SHERMAN,
May 25, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding, &c., New Orleans:
GENERAL: Your further dispatches of May 4 are just received.*
Those relating to trade in cotton, &c., and the disposition to be made of Ex-Governor Marston [Mouton?], have been delivered to the Secretary of War, to be submitted to the President.
More recent information respecting the operations of General Grant upon Vicksburg would indicate that he is likely to succeed in capturing that place without the assistance of your army. Nevertheless the Government is exceedingly uneasy at your separation. The success of such important operations on the Mississippi River should not be put in peril by the diversion of troops upon secondary operations. But I have so often called attention to this matter that it seems useless to repeat it.
As soon as I receive the orders of the Secretary of War in relation to cotton trade, &c., I will communicate them. I, however, regard that matter as of insignificant importance in comparison with your military operations on the Mississippi River.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HDQRS. DEPT., OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Rifley's before, Port Hudson, May 25, 1863-8.30 a. m.
Commodore J. S. PALMER,
Commanding, &c., Flag-ship Hartford:
COMMODORE: Having abandoned the Atchafalaya, and ordered the evacuation of Butte-a-la-Rose, the commanding general directs me to
* See Series I, Vol. XV. p. 309.