for an attack on New Orleans fell through as soon as I was advised that [J. G.] Walker's division would not join me. My active force, not including the garrison of this place, is less than 4,000. That the plan referred to would have succeeded any time before the 9th instant, I do not entertain the slightest doubt. Whether the city could have been held is another question. The fall of Port Hudson and the almost certain fate of Vicksburg render my present position in the La Fourche extremely hazardous, and not to be justified on any military grounds. The defenses of this bay are far from satisfactory, and the entrance of a hostile fleet would ruin my little army. The enemy will doubtless throw troops across the Atchafalaya at Morgan's Ferry, 28 miles from Washington. He has already a brigade in the Grossetete. I cannot hope to unite with the forces now in Northern Louisiana, and the whole country between this point and Monroe is open.
Since the communications of General Johnston led me to look forward to the fall of Vicksburg, I have been forming depots on the line from Lafayette to Niblett's Bluff. In case I abandon this country I expect to follow this line, and you will lay your plans regarding the limited amount of public property at Alexandria accordingly. I send to-day a staff officer to Morgan's Ferry, to watch and report the enemy's movements. The reports will be forwarded also to you. You will take steps to secure early and accurate information of the enemy's movements on Lower Red River and at Simsport.
Where is General [C. J.] Polignac's brigade? Is it armed and ready for service? At junction of the Huffpower and Boeuf, or on the latter near Washington, as the enemy may move, would be the place for it. Communicate the contents of this to department headquarters. I have no staff officer with me,and am fatigued and jaded beyond description.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. S.- Nothing of the boats which left Alexandria on the 7th ultimo. Afraid they have some to grief on the Atchafalaya.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WESTERN LOUISIANA, Alexandria, July 17, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the lieutenant-general commanding, with the remark that the boats of which General Taylor speaks in the postscripts met the enemy's gunboats at the mouth of the Atchafalaya, and returned safely to this post.
[JULY 14, 1863.- For Ewell to Logan, in reference to movements, &c., see Series I, Vol. XXIV, Part III, p.1005.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, Mobile, Ala., July 16, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army:
GENERAL: After the fall of Port Hudson,the army of Banks may be available for an early attack on Mobile. I therefore desire to impress upon the War Department the condition of this place.