HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, March 10, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a dispatch* received from Major General Frederick Steele, by the hands of Captain Dunham, of my staff, on March 5, the substance of which was transmitted to you in my dispatch of March 6. I also inclose a copy of a letter+ received from Admiral Farragut, which contains our last information from the fleet off Mobile.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF ARKANSAS, &C.,
Little Rock, Ark., March 10, 1864.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf:
GENERAL: Yours of the 3rd instant is received. The more I learn about the condition of the rebel army with which we shall have to contend, the more am I convinced of the correctness of what I have written you in regard to them. They will retreat into Texas without giving a general battle. Holmes' command will break up. Part of them will come in and give themselves up to us, and the rest will form into bands for the purpose of making raids along the Arkansas and into Missouri.
Your force, united with that sent by Sherman, will be strong enough to drive Kirby Smith's whole command into the Gulf. All the rebel families that left here at the approach of our troops are returning and taking the oath of allegiance to the United States, including officers of the State and Confederate States Government. They are tired of the war and freely give me any information that they possess in regard to the movements of the rebels.
I will not repeat my objections to the route which you wish me to take, but they are stronger now than ever. I will move with all my available force to Washington, and, if necessary, from there to Shreveport. It may be necessary for me to make a detour into the mountains in order to avoid bad roads. My force will not be as great as you and General Sherman anticipate. My troops are scattered, but holding points that cannot be abandoned, and some of them are so far off that they could not reach here in time for this expedition if they could be spared. The troops at Fort Smith will have about the same distance to reach Washington as those from here. I will endeavor to time my movements so as to conform to yours. I shall move with about 7,000 troops of all arms, about 3,000 of which will be cavalry. I shall go in command myself and shall take every available man.
I have the honor, general, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
+See Vol. XXXII, Part III, p.12.