OFFICE CHIEF OF ARTY., HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., February 12, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept. of the Gulf:
SIR: I have the honor to recommend the following disposition of artillery troops: First, that the Ninety-first Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, recently converted into heavy artillery, be sent to Fort Jackson, to relieve Fourth Regiment, Corps d'Afrique, Colonel Drew commanding; second, that the Fourth Regiment, Corps d'Afrique, Colonel Drew commanding, be sent to Fort Pickens, Fla.; third, that Battery D, First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery, be sent to Fort Saint Philip, to take charge of the new armament there.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Artillery.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER, DEPT. OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, February 12, 1864.
Major General J. J. REYNOLDS,
Commanding Defenses of New Orleans:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose a copy of the proceedings of a Board of Officers convened in this city to consider the best mode of defense of the city of New Orleans.* The recommendations of that Borad have and are being carried out at the following points, viz: Port Hudson, Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, New Orleans (so far as relates to improvements of the line of Camp Parapet and Company Canal), Brashear City, Forts Livington, Jackson, Saint Philip, Pike, Macomb, and Ship Island. None of the other recommendations have been carried out.
In regard to the defense of the city of New Orleans, it may be assumed that during the season of height water the Mississippi River is perfectly controlled by our naval force from Baton Rouge to the mouth, so as to prevent the enemy from making an efficient crossing or establishing themselves near its banks. So long as the navy can do this the city of New Orleans may be regarded as safe. To overcome this great advantage on our side would be a herculean task ont eh part of the rebels, requiring a regular siege under the most difficult circumstances. In low water, however, it is a comparatively easy mater to establish batteries on the banks of the river under cover of the levees; then it is easy to approach the city by land.
From the east the only land approach available to the rebels is to the north of Lake Pontchartrain, crossing the Amite River and reaching the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and Donaldsonville; thence the route is down the left bank of the Mississippi to New Orleans. The Jackson railroad could be included in this route, but it presents great difficulties to the movements of a large force, and wold require to be bridged for miles to render it practicable for artillery, being build on trestle-work through swamps. The position at Manchac Pass could be held by a very small force against any direct attack, but it could be turned by expeditions in small boats, either through Lake Pontchartrain or Lake Maurepas.
*See Banks to Halleck, August 12, 1863, Vol. XXVI, Part II, pp. 675-679.