WASHINGTON, September 30, 1863.
Major-General BANKS, New Orleans:
GENERAL: Your dispatch of September 13 was received some days ago, and submitted through the Secretary of War to the President. It has not been returned, nor have I received any instructions in relation to it. The failure of the attempt to land at Sabine is only another of the numerous examples of the uncertain and unreliable character of maritime descents. The chances are against their success.
In regard to steamers, we sent you all the sea transports of light draught that could be procured. We also requested the Navy Department to send you, down the Mississippi River, the tin-clads which you asked for. This was done the moment your requisitions were received. Admiral Porter replied to the Navy Department that he would send you some gunboats, although he did not believe they could be used on account of the draught of water. Light river transports must be obtained on the Mississippi or western rivers; they cannot be sent from here. Were we to attempt this, probably three-quarters of them would founder at sea.
I do not regard Sabine City in the same light as you do. Instead of being "the very center of the circle" of the enemy's operations, it seems to me to be upon the very circumference of his theater of war west of the Mississippi. The center of this theater is some point near Marshall or Nacogdoches. The enemy's line extends from near Little Rock to the mouth of the Rio Grande. The occupation of Sabine City neither cuts this line nor prevents the concentration of Sabine City neither point of it which he may select. Nevertheless, as the objects of your expedition are rather political than military, and do not admit of dealy, you may be able to accomplish the wishes of the Government by the route you have chosen sooner than by any other.
There is no possible danger of New Orleans at the present time from Johnston's forces east of the Mississippi River. All these forces have been sent to Bragg, at Chattanooga.
General Steele is in possession of Little Rock, and it is reported that Price's army is retreating on Arkadelphia. Possibly they may fall back into Texas to re-enforce Magruder. Probably, however, they will not fall back farther than Shreveport, perhaps nota s far, without water transportation to obtain supplies in that exhausted country.
I am very happy to receive such favorable accounts of affairs in New Orleans.
I must again call your attention to the fact that your communications sent by mail usually reach here two or three days before your bearers of dispatches. These bearers of dispatches seem to stop a day or two in New York to refresh themselves before coming to Washington. Are they not except in extraordinary cases, a useless expense to the Government?
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
DEPT. OF THE GULF, HDQRS. TROOPS IN WEST FLORIDA,
Barrancas, Fla., September 30, 1863.
Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE,
Chief of Staff, New Orleans, La.:
SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 8th day of September, 1863, a scouting party from this command captured in the town of Pen-