HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 12, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: Major-General Washburn's dispatches from Pass Cavallo, Tex., are inclosed herewith.* He is instructed not to move farther up the coast, but to maintain his position either on the island or at a secure point inland, either at Indianapola or Lavaca. He has from 5,000 to 6,000 men, and can defend himself against any force it is possible for the enemy to concentrate against him. A movement upon the Brazos, which he suggests, would unquestionably lead to an immediate engagement with the forces under Magruder, and I have thought it unsafe to take that position until we are strong enough to insure success. My desire is to occupy Galveston Island, if it can be done within reasonable squadron, which numbers now over thirty war vessels, enabling us to direct this naval force against the enemy on the Mississippi or any other part of the Gulf coast. If this can be accomplished, it will be of very material advantage. If we move in that direction, I shall concentrate on the Brazos all the disposable force at my command for a decisive and very short campaign. Eastern Texas offers us recruits, horses, forage, and supplies of every kind. All other parts of this department have been stripped by the ow armies of everything necessary for their support. If this movement is made, the force under General Franklin on the Teche will be withdrawn and concentrated in Texas. I do not intend to divide my forces by the occupation of numerous positions. With the exception of Brazos Santiago, it will be unnecessary to hold of these positions will be sufficient for the permanent occupation of the coast, and for an entrance into the interior whenever it shall be deemed expedient. So far as the occupation of the State is concerned, Matagorda Bay, which is now in our possession, gives us the key to the greater part of it, which we can occupy whenever we please.
Accompanying this letter is a chart of the coast of Texas, showing by flags the positions we occupy on the Rio Grande and the coast, the route pursued by the expedition to the Rio Grande, and the losses sustained by the sea.+
Colonel Davis is at Ringgold Barracks.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS TROOPS IN WESTERN LOUISIANA,
New Iberia, December 12, 1863.
Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE,
Chief of Staff, New Iberia [New Orleans, La.]:
I have sent 2 scouts into Vermillion to learn whether there is still a force of the enemy there, the rumors being that there are very few there. They are said to be in some force on Bayou Fusilier, to the right of Grand Coteau. This is not unlikely, as there is nothing for either horses or men in the vicinity of Vermillion.
+For chart, see Atlas.