immediate. They knew it would be a source of great danger to New Orleans to leave a garrison of 5,000 men at Port Hudson, as many at Mobile, and a larger number in the Teche country. They knew also that, if we withdrew from the attack here, with the low water of this month and the summer, it would be impossible to return to New Orleans by the Atchafalaya and the Grand Lake, and unless it was certain that Vicksburg should fall, and General Grant's army return with us, that we could not again reach New Orleans. New Orleans has no garrison for its defense under such circumstances, and it could not but stand in great peril. It seemed to me that it was absolutely necessary that I should complete my work here. It is now, we believe, certain to be done.
The reduction of Port Hudson has required a longer time than at first supposed. First, because it is a strong position. Secondly, because a large part of my force consists of nine-months' men, who openly say they do not consider themselves bound to any perilous service. It is this wholly unexpected defection that has prevented our success, but it cannot defeat us. I do not hesitate to say that the opinion was universal among our troops and those of the enemy that the work must fall. In proof of this I have only to say that, in the assault of Sunday, two companies of the Fourth Wisconsin Regiment went over the works and were captured, because the column did not follow, for the reason I have stated. The troops near the end of their enlistments say they do not feel like desperate service; the men enlisted for the war do not like to lead where the rest will not follow. I can also say, with certainly, that the removal of my command, or a considerable portion of it, to Vicksburg, would enable the rebel troops to join their forces on either side of the river, and place New Orleans in immediate peril. The fleet can destroy but it cannot defend the city. The dispatches inclosed will inform you of the movements of the enemy on the river below, even when Port Hudson is invested and the enemy divided by the river.
I came here by express appointment of General Grant. It did not seem possible, and it does not now seem possible, to withdraw from this post, since the first assault, without doing great injury to the Government, far more than counterbalancing the good rendered General Grant. My force is not more than 14,000 effective men, if so much, including the nine-months' men. I could not, in the present condition of things, carry to him more than 8,000 men without infinite danger to the department.
The loss or the great peril of New Orleans will be an irreparable calamity to the Government, and ought to be avoided.
I hope to effect an immediate reduction of Port Hudson, and to transport all my force to Vicksburg.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS RIGHT WING, UNITED STATES FORCES,
Before Port Hudson, La., June 18, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Nineteenth Corps:
SIR: Two cavalrymen have just come in, and report [J. L.] Logan with a large force of cavalry at Bayou Sara. Negroes report they intend attacking us, with the intention of burning the boats. Major