letter just received by him from Major General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief of the Army:
General Andrews' neglect of orders in regard to the river batteries at Port Hudson deserves a reprimand, if not a more serious punishment.
Very respectfully, I am, general, your most obedient servant,
CHAS. P. STONE.
Brigadier-General, Chief of Staff.
DONALDSONVILLE, LA., January 25, 1864
Colonel Sheldon says that at Plaquemine it is common rumor that General Bragg has crossed the river to take command of the Trans-Mississippi Department. Nothing new hereabouts.
W. O. FISKE
Colonel, Commanding Post.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Matagorda Peninsula, January 25, 1864
Brigadier General W. P. BENTON,
Commanding Post at Indianola:
You will immediately proceed to the work of fortifying your position at Indianola, and make it as strong as possible against attack, both by land and water, and calculating not on a larger garrison than you now have with you, but possibly a smaller one. You will erect a strong battery on the high shell bank near the hospital, which we stood on yesterday, large enough for four guns; also a battery large enough for three guns on the high front, across the first bayou above the town on the left of the road, which I showed you yesterday, making one face for three guns, looking up toward Oldtown, and nearly perpendicular to the road, and another nearly parallel to the water on the left, with room for three guns to sweep the plain in front of your position; and another high one on the right to cover the guns from a cannonade from the water, and where two guns might be mounted. These works are to be strengthened by rifle-pits.
You will also erect a work in the lower end of the town, having it as much masked as possible, and capable of using two guns toward the bay and two toward the land approaches, and also some small masked covers in the town, which, with their guns, will best command the channel. You will also industriously strengthen your position in addition to the above by such works as in your judgment are suitable. You are also directed to push out your infantry vedettes, to be sent from your main picket force, at least half a mile in your front, beyond the bayou near the bridge at the old City Hospital, and stretching across the plain from water to water. This line of vedettes is merely for lookouts and to give an alarm by firing on the approach of a hostile force, and thereby calling out the picket reserve, who will hold the attacking force in check at all hazards. A discreet officer will always be posted in command of the picket reserve at the bridge near the hospital, and this bridge and the one below will be left prepared for immediate and entire destruction in case an attempt is made to force a passage.
In addition to the line of infantry vedettes above mentioned