HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 4, 1863.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
SIR: Dispatches received from the Southwest Pass, by the U. S. gun-boat Bermudas, report the capture of the works at Pass Cavallo without loss. The Pass was defended by very strong works, an armament of twelve heavy guns, and a garrison of 1,000 men. We have no particulars of the affair. This gives us possession of the Bay of Matagorda, which enable us to control the State at our pleasure, and the occupation of every important point on the coast, excepting Galveston.
It has been impossible, within any reasonable time, to gain a foothold in Texas, excepting by the sea, at this season. The marching by Louisiana, either to the Sabine or by Alexandria or Shreveport, would cover from 300 to 500 miles to any important point in texas, over a country without water or supplies of any kind; without other transportation, in the present stage of the rivers, than that of wagon trains, and against the constantly retreating, but steadily concentrating forces of the enemy, who could not fail, by their superiority in numbers of mounted troops, to inflict upon our columns, trains, and communications serious and irreparable injury.
I appreciated the perils of coast descents in winter; but after the failure to effect a landing on the Sabine coast, which would have enabled me to place a force of from 15,000 to 17,000 men at Houston, in the very center of all the rebel forces of Louisiana and Texas, there was nothing left but a failure to re-establish the flag in Texas or an effort to occupy the western coast of the State. The results of the expedition thus far have been communicated to you at earlier dates; other important results will follow immediately.
Appreciating the great exigencies of the Government, I am ashamed to ask for increased forces; but it seems to me that our regiments from the East and the Northwest, depleted by constant and perilous service on sea and land, ought to be filled up by drafted men or volunteers. I would be satisfied with this.
I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF PENSACOLA,
Barrancas, Fla., December 5, 1863.
Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE,
Chief of Staff, Headquarters Department of the Gulf:
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit, in connection with my report of November 25 (Numbers 48), that, after careful combination of all the different conflicting reports received, I feel daily more confirmed in my opinion, already given, that the lively movements of rebel forces on the Mobile and Pensacola Railroad are at present defensive only, and that the larger portion of the troops collecting at Pollard were forwarded by rail to Chattanooga, to re-enforce Bragg, who was, according to rebel papers, severely punished, and is continually hard pressed by General Grant's army.
On the 27th of November, I visited Pensacola on the steamer George Peabody, she having discharged her cargo, and the heavy guns not being ready on the wharf for loading.
Having placed in town three companies of infantry, I started with a
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