War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0872 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter XXXVIII.

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the Brazos, I gave you full information of all the facts in the case. It is my purpose always, to keep you informed of all movements that ar contemplated in this department but it did not seem to me to be possible to do more in this instance; and, upon a review of the circumstances, I cannot now see where or when I could have given you more complete and satisfactory information than my dispatches conveyed.

I repeat my suggestion that the best line of defense for Louisiana as well as for operations against Texas, is by Berwick Bay and the Atchafalaya, and I also recall the suggestions made by you upon the same subject; but that line was impracticable at the time when I received your orders upon the subject of Texas. I ought to add that the line of the Atchafalaya is available for offensive or defensive purposes only when the state of the water admits the operations of a strong naval force. At the time I made this suggestion to you, it was impossible to get a boat up the Atchafalaya, either from the Red River or from the Gulf, owing to the low state of the water, and there were very few, if any, boats on the Mississippi or in this Department that could have navigated these waters at that time. It was, therefore, impossible to avail myself of this natural line; first for the reason that we had not sufficient naval force for this purpose, and that the navigation that we had not sufficient naval force for this purpose, and that the navigation was impossible. As soon as the Mississippi and Red River shall rise the Government can make available the advantages presented by this line of water communication.

I recognize the embarrassments under which the Government labors in regard to re-enforcements in this department yet as my lines are continually extending, I thought it to be my duty to renew the suggestion which I had formerly made in regard to the strength of my command and the many imperative demands made upon it. This is in the way of information, a nd not of complaint. I do not think my dispatches will show unreasonable urgency in this regard. I do not intend unnecessarily to divide my forces. I shall keep them concentrated as far as it is possible to do so. You may be sure that your suggestions upon this subject will receive due consideration. I know there is great difficulty in obtaining light-draught sea-boats, yet, from the necessities of the service, I feel called upon to urge as far as may be proper, the want of vessels of this character. We have had very serious difficulty in obtaining the use of such vessels when in this department an din the possession of the Government. I am very glad that you have called to attention of Admiral Porter again to the subject of light-draught boats for the Atchafalaya and Berwick Bay. He has promised that as soon as the state of the water will admit the passage of his boats, he will send some of them into that river. I was not aware of the existence of the law to which you refer, but I appreciate the embarrassment which it throws upon the administration of the War Department. I will, as you suggest, communicate with the naval authorities, and request their assistance in all enterprises which I may undertake.

I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,

N. P. BANKS,

Major-General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,

New Orleans, December 23, 1863.

Major General WILLIAM B. FRANKLIN,

Commanding Troops in Western Louisiana, New Iberia:

GENERAL: I suppose the gunboat Arizona has reported, in compliance with a request of the commanding general to the commodore that