especially the fortified positions at Shreveport. You will embark your command as soon as possible, but little encumbered with wagons or wheeled vehicles, but well supplied with fuel, provisions, and ammunition. Take with you the twelve mortars, with their ammunition, and all the 30-pounder Parrotts the ordnance officer will supply; proceed to the mouth of Red River and confer with Admiral Porter; confer with him and in all the expedition rely on him implicitly, as he is the approved friend of the Army of the Tennessee, and has been associated with us from the beginning.
I have undertaken with General Banks that you will be at Alexandria, La., on or before the 17th day of March, and you will, if time allows, co-operate with the navy in destroying Harrisonburg, up Black River on the Washita, but as I passed Red River yesterday I saw Admiral Porter, and he told me he had already sent an expedition to Harrisonburg, so that I suppose that part of the plan will be accomplished before you reach Red River; but in any event be careful to reach Alexandria about the 17th of March. General Banks will start by land from Franklin, in the Teche country, either the 5th or 7th, and will march via Opelousas to Alexandria. You will meet him there, report to him, and act under his orders. My understanding with him is, his forces will still move by land via Natchitoches, &c., to Shreveport, whilst the gun-boat fleet is to ascend the river with your transports in company. Now, Red River is very low for the season, and I doubt if any of the boats can pass the falls or rapids at Alexandria. What General Banks proposes to do in that event I do not know, but my own judgment is that Shreveport ought not to be attacked until the gun-boats can reach it. Not that a force marching by land cannot do it alone, but it would be bad economy in war to invest the place with an army so far from heavy guns, mortars, ammunition, and provisions, which can alone reach Shreveport by water. Still, I do not know about General Banks' plans in that event, but whatever they may be, your duty will be to conform in the most hearty manner. My understanding with General Banks is that he will not need the co-operation of your force beyond thirty days from the date you reach Red River. As soon as he has taken Shreveport or as soon as he can spare you will return to Vicksburg with all dispatch, gather up your detachments, wagons, tents, transportation, and all property pertaining to so much of the command as belongs to the Sixteenth Army Corps, and conduct it to Memphis, where orders will await you.
My present belief is, your division entire will be needed round with the Army of the Tennessee about Huntsvile or Bridgeport. Still, I will leave orders with General Hurlbut at Memphis for you on your return. I believe if water will enable the gun-boats to cross the rapids at Alexandria you will be able to make a quick, strong, and effective blow at our enemy in the West, thus widening the belt of our territory and making the breach between the Confederate Government and its outlying Trans-Mississippi Department more perfect. It is understood that General Steele makes a simultaneous move from Little Rock on Shreveport or Natchitoches, with a force of about 10,000 men.
Banks will have 17,000 and you 10,000. If these can act concentrically and simultaneously you will make short work of it, and then General Banks will have enough force to hold as much of the Red River as he deems wise, leaving you to bring to General Grant's main army the 7,500 men of the Sixteenth Corps. Having faith in your