forces in Texas and Louisiana combine, they outnumber us largely. Our only hope of success is in preventing their junction.
As it is impracticable to obtain troops from the east, as far as possible the force on the Upper Mississippi, both naval and military, should be sent to New Orleans to strength offensive operations and to defend against attacks of the enemy.
Johnston is near Pascagoula, at Hall's Mills, in expectation of attack on Mobile, with 26,000 men; Taylor, between Pattersonville and Vermillion, with 15,000, and Magruder at Sabine Pass with such force as could be brought from Galveston. If we move east or west toward Mobile or Galveston, one or the other of these forces threaten New Orleans in our absence.
The increase of the naval force is indispensable for the proper defense of the city on the lake (Pontchartrain) east by light draught gunboats; on the Atchafalaya by light-draught boats; and the mouth of the river, at the forts, by one or two iron-clads.
This increase of naval force, very little in itself, ought to be furnished without delay. It requires altogether but six or eight light-draught boats and two iron-clads. The upper river will furnish the first without difficulty.
It is reported to us to-day (the 21st), when I finish this letter, that the enemy is evacuating Little Rock and retreating toward Alexandria. If so, it is with a view of concentrating all the forces west of the river in Texas. Our forces should be directed to the same point without loss of time, either overland or by the river. I beg you will press upon the Government the necessity of strengthening the forces, temporarily at least, in Louisiana, until we can prevent the junction of the enemy's forces.
The temptations to contraband trade ought to be laid before the Government. All other considerations that require presentation are so well known to you that I need not refer to them. The chief object is to strengthen the naval and land forces for our temporary but most important duties.
Everything is pleasant and promising in the city. The concert in the square last evening was one of the most remarkable demonstrations of the season. There were as many young men in attendance as heretofore there have been women and children. The change was universally remarked.
September 22, 7 a. m.-The capture of another tow-boat, the Leviathan, at the Southwest Pass last night, shows the necessity of increasing the number of light gunboats in the lower river. This is the third or fourth of these invaluable boats that have been captured by the enemy for the want of the some protection of this kind.
I desire it to be said that I believe these captures are arranged by collusion with parties in this city, who place these boats in positions where they can be captured when the enemy is ready for the descent, and that they are paid for by cotton passed through the hands of the officers of the Government. When the United States comes to a settlement with foreign nations of the pirate ships which are destroying American commerce, I believe it will turn out that they are paid for in this manner.
I am, very truly, yours, &c.,
N. P. BANKS,