will be ready to move. I can take possession of Alexandria at any time, but could not maintain the position without the support of the forces on the upper river. It is important that rive steamers should be sent down from Saint Louis, suitable for the navigation of Red River. I want ten or fifteen first-class and light-draught boats. Some months since your ordered steamers to be sent here, but very few reached New Orleans. They will be indispensable now.
Pending information and orders in regard to movements on Red River, but little change has occurred in the position of troops. I have sent officers to communicate with General Sherman, or General McPherson in his absence, and General Steele, but have yet no information from them. I have sent an officer to Saint Louis also, to obtain steamers, and shall be very glad if you will communicate with the quartermaster at that post, and direct him to aid me. The troops are generally re-enlisting. The furloughs granted upon re-enlistment will materially reduce my force, and I hope those sent from the North may replace those who obtain leave of absence. A company of the enemy's troops near Pensacola came into that post and surrendered themselves. No official report of the fact is received, but it is undoubtedly correct.
The election is progressing favorably. Anxiously waiting information and instructions as to operations on Red River, I have done nothing in Texas, except to provide for the security of the positions held. The armament at Fort Jackson will soon be completed. The interior works at Port Hudson are now nearly ready for the guns intended for their defense. The health of the troops is good.
I have the honor to be, with respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
FRANKLIN, LA., January 29, 1864.
(Received 4 p. m.)
Chief of Staff:
The effective force now here is 4,000-2,000 infantry, four batteries of field artillery (eighth guns), and two batteries of heavy artillery (eight guns), and about 500 serviceable cavalry. This force can hold this position against any equal force of the enemy. To hold the position against any force which the enemy might bring will require about 4,000 infantry and two field batteries. I think that in any event the cavalry force here should be increased to 2,000 effective, and that at least one gun-boat of very light draught should be at Franklin.
If it will be impossible to increase the cavalry and furnish the gun-boat, then I recommend that if this place be threatened by the enemy in large force the command be withdrawn so far that the gun-boats now in Berwick Bay can aid it. Any point below Bisland will fulfill this condition, but I recommend that this place be held, and that the force be increased by the cavalry and gun-boat already specified. I have seen no indication of an immediate attack by the enemy, but I think his movement will be governed by ours. Our troops here are in.
I should mention that more than 1,000 of the men ar entitled to