I inclose to you with this communication a very complete map* of the Red River country and Texas, which embraces all the information we have been able to obtain up to this time. It has been prepared by Major D. C. Houston, of the engineer corps, and will show that we have not overlooked the importance of this line. Accompanying the map is a memoir, which exhibits the difficulties that are to be overcome. To this I respectfully ask your attention. I have sent to General Sherman and General Steele copies of this map. I shall be ready to move to Alexandria as soon as the rivers are up, most probably marching by Opelousas. This will be necessary to turn the forts on Red River and open the way for the gun-boats. From that point I can operate with General Steele north or south of Red River, in the direction of Shreveport, and from thence await your instructions. I do not think operations will be delayed on my account. I have received a dispatch from General Sherman, in which he expresses a wish to enter upon this campaign, but had not at that time received orders upon the subject.
I do not think it expedition to give up the occupation of Matagorda Bay, which is a key point of Texas, and may be of great service hereafter in communication with the coast from the interior, but the force will be reduced to the lowest number consistent with the safe occupation of Matagorda Island. I have a small force east of Lake Pontchartian, sent over to cover an effort, to obtain lumber and other quartermaster's stores, and which will be withdrawn as soon as we have active field duty. I can concentrate on Red River all my force available for active service except the garrisons at Matagorda and Brownsville, which will be small. I am very much gratified by the report of re-enforcements to which your dispatches refer.
With great respect,&c.,
N. P. BANKS,
WAR DEPT., AJDT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 35.
Washington, January 23, 1864.
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24. By direction of the President, Major General John A. McClernand, U. S. Volunteers, will report for duty to Major-General Banks, commanding Department of the Gulf, at New Orleans, La.+
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By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF. Numbers 20.
New Orleans, La., January 23, 1864
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4. Brigadier-General Dwight will relieve the Eighty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers from duty at Fort Jackson, and will order
*Not found as an inclosure.
+General McClernand reported to General Banks on the 15th of February, 1864.