OFFICE OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER, DEPT. OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., January 19, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: It will require two months to complete the works under my charge at Port Hudson with the present force, except "trimming," which will require a month more. No troops except a few prisoners have been furnished for more than a month. White laborers are difficult to get, and then only at high prices-$1.25 per day and rations, equal to $1.75 per day. The works are so far advanced that the urgency for them does not longer exist, but still it is desirable that the works should be finished so as to relieve the officer in charge for other duty. It would seem that a garrison of the size of Port Hudson should build its own fortifications. I would like to employ the laboring, hired force exclusively on the more difficult work, as magazines, &c.
I submit this for your consideration, and at the same time wish to call your attention to the fact that the orders concerning the employment of troops at that point have not been carried out, not even in letter, certainly not in spirit, if I am to credit the reports of the engineer in charge. Not more than one-half the labor ordered has been performed, even in name, while the engineer has been furnished no assistance or encouragement by the commanding officer. The commanding officer declined to furnish an officer to take charge of tools and other property for the works, but did so for the works built by his own direction. In making the statement I am merely repeating the reports which I have received from the officer in charge.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. C. HOUSTON,
Major and Chief Engineer, Dept. of the Gulf.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., January 21, 1864
Respectfully referred to Brigadier-General Andrews, commanding,&c., at Port Hudson, who it is supposed, with his present force, can spare, for limited time, at least 500 men as a working party on the fortifications. It is important that these works should be completed at a much earlier time than indicated within.
By command of Major-General Banks:
GEO. B. DRAKE,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Port Hudson, La., February 5, 1864.
One thousand men are furnished daily from the garrison to work on fortifications. As to the reports within referred to by the chief engineer, I have only to say that they are very incorrect, and to express my surprise that such reports,coming from the officer in question, should have produced the impression which they appear to have done upon the chief engineer.
GEO. L. ANDREWSS.
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Post.