I was especially gratified to know that I might expect to hear of your gunboats in the Atchafalaya and on Berwick Bay as soon as the rise in the former would permit, and that you intended to provide so efficient an addition to that portion of your fleet serving within the limits of this department as that which you mention. That number of gunboats of such class as you mention will very greatly facilitate all operations in this region, and will render it impossible for the enemy to annoy us as they have heretofore done, by using against us the wonderful network of navigable waters west of the Mississippi River.
At this moment a large force of the enemy is established between the Atchafalaya navigable by the gunboats, and, should, they arrive soon, a little active work of the navy, in co-operation with the land forces at my disposition will place that force at our mercy.
I earnestly hope that you will find it convenient to dispatch the intended re-enforcements without delay, and that another fortnight may witness the capture or dispersion of the rebel forces now so seriously impeding the navigation of the Mississippi.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 15, 1863
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XII. The First Brigade, Fourth Division, Thirteenth Army corps, will proceed without delay to Fort Esperanza, Pass Cavallo Tex., and be reported to Major General C. C. Washburn, U. S. Volunteers, for duty. The brigade will take twenty days' rations and ten days' forage for such animals as can be taken on the transports with the troops. The quartermaster's department will furnish the necessary transportation.
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By command of Major-General Banks:
G. NORMAN LIEBER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 16, 1863.
Major General N. J. T. DANA,
Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps, Brownsville, Tex.,:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 2nd instant has been this day received, and laid before the major-general commanding. He directs that you dispose of as much of the cotton collected as may be necessary for defraying the expenses of collection and such extraordinary expenditures as the exigencies of the service may require, and that you hold the remainder subject to the order of the chief quartermaster of the department, who will make such disposition of it as may be directed from these headquarters. He further directs that you shall have authority to give provisional appointments as officers for the newly raised