to bring his command here, and will be returned immediately for the troops he has left behind.
I have read General Halleck's dispatch with attention. Some information has been received at Washington in regard to the sailing of the iron-clads from Liverpool. The conversation of Southern men overheard in the ship-yards indicated that their destination will be the southwest, and a possible attack on New Orleans. I do not apprehend any danger from this source, but the Government deems it worthy attention, and the positions indicated will be strengthened. It is quite possible the movement of troops, not having reference to your dispatch or to my own, might have been caused by the information received.
I have the honor to inclose to you some memoranda concerning Mobile.* I still think it of the utmost moment that that port should be in our hands. Except for Johnston's army, we should have no difficulty. He seems to occupy a position intended to cover Mobile, and if he is in force, 30,000 or 40,000 strong, as I suppose, he could embarrass operations against that point very seriously. I am unable, however, to see how he can hold his position in the southwest, with Rosecrans' army pressing down upon the rebel center. A line extending from Mobile to Richmond, in the present shattered condition of the rebel armies, the right, center, and left having all been disastrously defeated, it seems to me possible that they can maintain their positions, if Rosecrans, with a heavy force, pushes down upon their center, or if Charleston shall fall into our hands through the operations of the fleet and army combined. A successful movement in either direction from Charleston, or by Rosecrans, will cut their center, and place Bragg and Johnston, with their forces, between the troops under Rosecrans, your own, and mine at New Orleans. I do not believe that that condition of things can be maintained. All the information we receive here points to a change in their operations. For instance, we hear that the guns are removed from the forts at Mobile to the town. This indicates that their ordnance is deficient, or that they may be intended to remove them to a distance. The Catholic priests there write to their friends here that they are in daily anticipation of an order for the evacuation of the city. This is said with reference to the supply of provisions, and for the purpose of assuring the friends here that their supplies from t he Government of the United States may be expected very soon. The Mobile papers, in speaking of Johnston's visit, though apparently denying the possibility of evacuation, actually evade the question. Johnston is made to say that if he had intended to evacuate, he should not have shown himself there; and, after an examination of the works, he is said to have pronounced the opinion that the post was one of the strongest on the rebel seaboard. This is undoubtedly true, but it does not affect the question of maintaining a line extending from Mobile to Richmond.
It is important that as much information as possible should be had of Johnston's movements. I shall be greatly indebted to you for any information you may gain upon this subject, and will also transmit to you without delay memoranda or information that may fall into our hands. Until we have further orders from the Government, active operations will, of course, be suspended.
I am greatly indebted to you for the promptness with which you have sent there-enforcements o this department.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
* Not found; but see Banks to Halleck, p. 666.