sound judgment and experience, I confide this important and delicate command to you with certainly that you will harmonize perfectly with Admiral Porter and General Banks, with whom you are to act, and thereby insure success.
I am, with respect, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Vicksburg, March 6, 1864.
Major General FREDERICK STEELE,
Commanding Department of Arkansas:
GENERAL: I am just arrived; my troops are all in, and I shall embark 10,000 men for Red River to-morrow and next day. General Banks will surely march from Franklin on Opelousas, reaching Alexandria by the 17th instant. My force will meet him there on that day. He expects you to co-operate from Little Rock, and you certainly will never again have so good a chance to clear your front as now. Besides, your forces are deemed an essential part of the programme. Mine ought to hasten around to General Grant at once, and I only can spare them for thirty days.
I saw Captain Dunham on his way down and rear your letter to him, and must confess I feel uneasy at your assertion that you can only move with 7,000 infantry, and that you prefer to wait until after the election of the 14th. If we have to modify military plans for civil elections we had better go home. I repeat that General Banks will surely move on Shreveport via Alexandria, reaching that point March 17, expecting you to co-operate from the north in time.
Admiral Porter has now a magnificent fleet up Red River, and his guns were at work on Harrisonburg as I passed up the river. He, too, will meet General Banks at Alexandria March 17. Colonel Woodrow comes to you with dispatches, and I send by him my former letter and this. Nearly all our command is of re-enlisted veterans, but they cheerfully defer their furloughs to enable us to make these blows, and I feel assured you would also.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Port Hudson, La., March 6, 1864.
Brigadier General C. P. STONE,
Chief of Staff:
Captain Hays, of the One hundred and fourteenth Ohio, is on board, with 104 men of different commands and 60 cavalry horses. Will arrive in New Orleans to-morrow morning. Met Lieutenant Sargent at Skipwith's Landing and Lieutenant-Colonel Woodrow at Natchez yesterday. Admiral Porter is at Red River, ready to move with his fleet as soon as the troops arrive from above, and will meet us at Alexandria. An expedition sent up the Washita River by Admiral Porter captured a fort, with all their guns, including three 32-pounders.
JAS. GRANT WILSON,
Colonel and Acting Aide-de-Camp.