WASHINGTON, D. C.,
June 4, 1863.
Commanding New Orleans:
GENERAL: After writing my letter of yesterday, I received your letters of May 8, 11, 12 (four letters), 18, and 19. These fully account for your movement on Port Hudson, which before seemed so unaccountable. General Grant was probably drawn so far north in the pursuit of the enemy that he found it necessary to connect himself with his supplies above Vicksburg. As at Alexandria you were almost as near to Grand Gulf as to Port Hudson, we thought it exceedingly strange that you and General Grant should move in opposite directions to attack both places at the same time. I hope that you have ere this given up your attempt on Port Hudson and send all your attempt on Port Hudson and sent all your spare forces to Grant. The moment Vicksburg falls there will be no serious difficulty in taking Port Hudson, Moreover, both your armies can be supplied from the Upper Mississippi.
If I have been over-urgent in this matter, it has arisen from my extreme anxiety lest the enemy should concentrate all his strength on one of your armies before you could unite, whereas, if you act together, you certainly will be able to defeat him. Your letter in regard to P. Soule has been referred to the Secretary of War.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, 19TH ARMY CORPS,
Before Port Hudson, June 4, 1863.
Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Army:
GENERAL: Your letter of May 19, referring to my occupation of Alexandria, I received yesterday. I marched to Alexandria for the double purpose of dispersing the rebel army said to be concentrating the re under Kirby Smith, and destroying the materials upon which an army could be organized or supported in that country. In both objects I succeeded. The enemy was driven into the pine woods more than 70 mile above Alexandria, and the destruction of foundries and shops, and the seizure of horses, carts, &c., throughout the whole of that district, the advantage of which I am now reaping, has made it impossible to organize and supply a large force from that country.
Besides, my arrangement with Major-General Gran, upon his own proposition, was that I should join a corps of his force in the reduction of Port Hudson on May 25. I reached this place on the 23d, and a part of my force was earlier prepared for the attack. It was only at Alexandria that I learned that General Grant had been diverted from his original plan.
The course to be pursued here gives me great anxiety. If I abandon Port Hudson, I leave its garrison, some 6,000 or 7,000 men, the force under Mounto and Sibbley now threatening Brashear City, and the army of Mobile, large or small, to threaten or attack New Orleans. If I detach from my command in the field a sufficient force to defend that city, which ought not to be less than 8,000 or 10,000, my assistance to General Grant is unimportant, and I leave an equal or larger number of the enemy to re-enforce Johnston. If I defend New Orleans and its adjacent territory, the enemy will go against Grant. If I go with a