HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., September 17, 1863.
Major General RICHARD TAYLOR:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of General Magruder's letter to you,* with your indorsement, under date of 14th of September, also your letter of September 15,+ relating to the transfer of a portion of your command to Niblett's Bluff.
That an expedition on the scale and with the force ascribed to the expedition at Sabine Pass, and under the command of an officer of Franklin's rank and character, should have been abandoned without even an attempt to bring this force into action, I cannot believe. It must have been, as you suppose, a demonstration intended to cover some other point of attack. The facts are, however, that the fleet has withdrawn, and the enemy's plans are not yet developed. Until that be the case, it would not be wise to remove any portion of your command to Niblett's Bluff; especially, if the enemy have returned to New Orleans, as General Magruder suppose, would this be impolitic. The character of the country is such, and the difficulties in the way of supplying the troops so great, that any portion of your command transferred to Niblett's Bluff would be entirely thrown out of all operations on the Lower Red River.
General Magruder and yourself must co-operate with each other. If the whole force of the enemy is thrown upon one, assistance must come from the other. It would be well to keep up a system of depots with supplies for the passage of troops besteen the Sabine and Red River. The line best suited depends upon the disposition of your own troops, and must be selected by yourself. If Colonel Major's brigade has returned from Natchez, it would be well to have it halted at some point near Natchitoches; it is then at central position, and can move rapidly toward any point desired. You will submit your views to me in regard to this matter.
If an independent command could be organized for operations on the Mississippi River, under Colonel [Isaac F.] Harrison, I believe efficient service would be performed.
I am, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HDQRS. TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, September 17, 1863.
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XIII. Brigadier General W. R. Scurry is assigned to the command of the brigade of Walker's division lately commanded by Brigadier-General McCulloch. He will report forthwith to Major-General Taylor, commanding District of Louisiana.
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By command of Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith:
S. S. ANDERSON,
*Probably that of September 10 (p.218), but indorsement not found.