forward this statement to you, that, being put in official knowledge of the charges, you may take such course as shall maintain discipline and cause full explanation of the facts.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
S. A. HURLBUT,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
En Route for Memphis, March 8, 1864.
Brigadier General JOHN A RAWLINS,
Chief of General Grant's Staff, Nashville:
GENERAL: I had the honor to receive, at the hands of General Butterfield, General Grant's letter of February 18.* I had returned from Meridian by the time I had appointed, but the condition of facts concerning the Red River expedition being indefinite, I took one of the marine boats, the Diana, and went down to New Orleans to confer with General Banks. En route i saw the admiral and learned that he was ready, and a large and effective gun-boat fleet would be at the mouth of Red River ready for action March 5. At New Orleans I received the general's letter, with enclosures, and was governed by it in my interview with General Banks.
General McClernand had been ingeniously disposed of by being sent to command in Texas. General Banks is to command in person, taking with him 17,000 of his chosen troops to move by land from the end of the Opelousas Railroad, via Franklin, Opelousas, and Alexandria. Steele is to move from Little Rock on Natchitoches, and he asked of me 10,000 men in boats to ascend Red River, meeting him at Alexandria the 17th of March. I inclose copies+ of General Banks' letter to me and my answer, which was clear and specific.
I have made up a command of 10,000 men - 7,500 of Hurlbut's and 2,500 of McPherson's. General A. J. Smith goes in command of the whole; will be at the mouth of Red River by the 10th at farthest, and at Alexandria on the 17th. These 10,000 men are not to be gone over thirty days, at the expiration of which time McPherson's quota will return to vicksburg and Hurlbut's quota will come to Memphis, where, if all things remain as now, I can bring them rapidly round to Savannah, Tenn., and so on to my right flank near Huntsville. I think thais will result as son as the furloughed men get back.
Inasmuch as General Banks goes in person I could not with delicacy propose that I should command, and the scene of operations lying wholly in his department, I deemed it wisest to send A. J. Smith, and to return in time to put my army in the field in shape for the coming spring campaign.
I have ordered five regiments, under General Veatch, to join Dodge at once, and I feel sure I can safely draw A. J. Smith's division of full 5,000 men to the same point in April. McPherson and Hurlbut are both instructed to furlough their veterans at once and many regiments are already off.
I have inspected Natchez and Vicksburg and feel sure they can now be held safe with comparatively small garrisons, and the river is patrolled by gun-boats and the Marine Brigade.
I will inspect Memphis, and in a few days will hasten to Huntsville
*See Part II, p.424.
+See Vol. XXXIV, Part II, pp.481, 494.