[Sub-inclosure Numbers 3.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, November 28, 1863.
LEONARD PIERCE, Jr., Esq.,
U. S. Consul, Matamoras:
SIR: I inclose herein a copy of dispatch, Numbers 29,* received this day from W. Marsh, U. S. consul at Altona, giving information of two vessels, the ship Alsterdam, Captain Benson, lying at Bremerhaven, and the barque Herbert, Loud, at Antwerp, chartered by agents of the so-called Confederate States to carry arms and ammunition to Matamoras.
You will, immediately after the receipt of this dispatch, convey the above information to the commanding officer of any U. S. vessel of war in your vicinity, that a strict lookout may be kept for the said vessels, and if they or their cargoes should be found in U. S. jurisdiction they may be seized as prizes. If, however, they unfortunately succeed in landing their cargoes at Matamoras, you will take all proper steps to prevent the whole or any part thereof from coming into the possession of the insurgents.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD,
[Inclosure Numbers 5.]
MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, FLAG-SHIP, BLACK HAWK,
Cairo, January 19, 1864.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of December 29.+ I had already sent down four good "tin-clads," light draught, to Commodore Bell to co-operate with you in the waters of the Atchafalaya, & c. I will send six more in a few days. They are new vessels and have five batteries, mounting in all sixty guns.
You have no idea how I am pressed on all sides for gun-boats. If it could have been done you should have had them sooner. Our winter has been severe, the thermometer 26^ below zero, the river full of ice, and the Mississippi frozen hard from Saint Louis to Cairo.
My whole force is taken up in co-operating with Generals Grant and Sherman, who are now on the move, or I should be below in person.
The water in the Atchafalaya is only back water from the Mississippi, and when the river rises I will shove a strong force in there. The rebels are blockading Red River again with rafts and fortifying Shreveport strongly. The shoals at Alexandria are yet dry, but 3 inches will cover them. It will require a rise of 12 feet for any vessel to ascend the river.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DAVID D. PORTER,
* See preceding.
+ See Vol. XXVI, Part I, p. 888.