HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 22, 1863.
* * * *
II. Officers of the Coast Survey, serving with the army in this department will have the assimilated rank of captain, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
* * * *
By command of Major-General Banks:
G. NORMAN LIEBER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 23, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: Your dispatch of December 9  I received yesterday. My orders from the Department were to establish the flag of the Government in Texas at the earliest possible moment. I understood that the point and the means were left to my discretion. It was implied, if not stated, that time was an element of great importance in this matter, and that the object should be accomplished as speedily as possible. In addition to the instructions received from your Department upon this subject, the President addressed me a letter, borne by Brigadier-General Hamilton, Military Governor of Texas, dated September 19, 1863, in which he expressed the hope that I had already accomplished the object so much desired. In the execution of this order, my first desire was to obtain possession of Houston, and the expedition which failed to effect a landing at the Sabine was designed to secure that object. The failure of that expedition made it impossible to secure a landing at that point. I immediately concentrated all my disposable force upon the Teche, with a view to enter Texas by the way of Niblett's Bluff, on the Sabine, or by Alexandria, at some more northern point.
The low stage of the water in all the rivers, and the exhaustion of supplies in that country, made it apparent that this route was impracticable at this season of the year-I might as it was impossible, within any reasonable time-and it would be accompanied by imminent peril, owing to the condition of the country, the length of march, and the strength of the enemy. Making this certain by thorough reconnaissances of the country, but without withdrawing my troops, I concluded to make another effort to effect a landing at some point upon the coast of Texas, in the execution of what I understood to be imperative orders. For this purpose, I withdrew a small force, stationed at Morganza, on the Mississippi, which had been under command of General Herron, and was then under Major-General Dana, and put them in a state of preparation for this movement. Assisted by the commander of the naval forces, Commodore Bell, I directed a reconnaissance of coast of Texas as far as Brazos Santiago, making my movements entirely dependent upon that report.
A return from this reconnaissance was made October 16, and my troops being in readiness for movement somewhere, without delay of a single day, except that which the state of the weather made necessary, I moved for the Brazos. You will see from these facts that it was impossible for me to give you sufficient notice of this intention, to receive instructions from you upon this subject; but as soon as I had received the information necessary, and arrived at the determination to land at