received a communication from General Sherman in regard to the stoppage of our forage on the river, and hope that all difficulties in this respect will be removed. The political indications in this State are satisfactory. I entertain no doubt that a full vote will be given in the election of the 22nd of February, and that the State officers, with a full delegation in both Houses of Congress, composed of earnest and intelligent supporters of the Administration and disposed to co-operate with the military forces of the department, will be ready for service by the middle of April.
There is great unanimity of feeling with the people in this State as to election. No serious objection is made except on the part of persons whose private plans have been somewhat disturbed by the immediate organization of a State government. Let me assure you that attention to questions relating to the Government will not interfere with a preparation for military movements.
I have the honor to be, with much respect your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, January 23, 1864
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
GENERAL: Your dispatches of the 4th and the 11th January are received, the first on the 13th instant and the second by the mail to-day. I am much gratified to know that General Sherman is instructed to co-operate with the commands on the Mississippi. With the forces you propose, I concur in your opinion,and with Generals Sherman and Steele, "that the Red River is the shortest and best line of defense for Louisiana and Arkansas, and as a base of operations against Texas," but it would be too much for General Steele or myself to undertake separately. With our united forces and the assistance of General Sherman the success of movements on that line will be certain and important. I shall most cordially co-operate with them in executing your orders.
With my own command I can operate with safety, only on the coast of Texas, but from the coast I could not penetrate far into the interior, nor secure control of more than the country west of San Antonio. On the other line, with commensurate forces, the whole State as well as Arkansas and Louisiana, will be ours, and their people will gladly renew their allegiance to the Government. The occupation of Shreveport will be to the country west of the Mississippi what that of Chattanooga is to the east, and as soon as this can be accomplished the country west of Shreveport will be in condition for movement into Texas. I have written to General Sherman and General Steele, in accordance with these views, and shall be ready to act with them as soon as the Atchafalaya and Red River will admit the navigation of our gun-boats. Our supplies can be transported by the Red River until April at least. In the mean time the railway from Vicksburg to Shreveport ought to be completed, which would furnish communication very comfortably for the whole of Eastern Texas. I do not mean that operations should be deferred of this purpose, but as an ultimate advantage in the occupation of these States and the establishment of governments it would be of great importance.