expedition prove successful, hold Shreveport and the Red River with such force as you may deem necessary, and return the balance of your troops to the neighborhood of New Orleans.
I would not at present advise the abandonment of any portion of territory now held west of the Mississippi, but commence no move for the further reacquisition of territory unless it e to make that now ours more easily held. This, of course, is not intended to restrain you from making any disposition of your troops or going anywhere to meet and fight the enemy wherever he may be in force. I look upon the conquering of the organized armies of the enemy as being of vastly more importance than the mere acquisition of territory.
It may be a part of the plan for the spring campaign to move against Mobile. It certainly will be if troops enough can be obtained to make it without embarrassing other movements. In this case, New Orleans will be the pint of departure for such an expedition. There is one thing, general, I would urge, and don't know but what you have already, and that is of supplying your army as far as possible from the country occupied. Mules, horses, forage, and provisions can be paid for, where taken from persons who have taken the amnesty oath prescribed by the President (if the oath be taken before the loss of property), with both economy and convenience. I have directed General Steele to make a real move as suggested by you instead of a demonstration, as he thought advisable.
U. S. GRANT,
MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK,
Off Fort De Russy, March 15, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee:
DEAR GENERAL: I have only time to write you a few lines to say that to far things are working well and we are in possession of Fort De Russy, which was taken by General Smith with slight resistance; 250 prisoners and 10 heavy guns fell into our hands. The Eastport and Neosho got up in time to fire a few shot, one of which passed over the fort and came near using up an Iowa regiment, and the troops moved on so quick that Captain Phelps had to desist for fear of killed our own men. As soon as the fort fell (Walker escaped with 5,000 men), I sent the gun-boats ahead to cut them off and harass them until the army could follow. The gunboats are in Alexandria before this. The army were too tired to move last night, having performed a march of 30 miles, and they had to stop to get on board the transports again, which they ave doing now. I am in hopes General Smith will be able to throw his troops between eh rebels and Alexandria and catch the retreating rebels.
Everything is working smoothly; the army and navy hobnob together nicely, and though I should like to have had you here personally, yet I think no one could have done better than General Smith has thus far. Had General Banks been up to time not a rebel would have escaped. This had been an unpleasant expedition to the rebels; their loss in munitions of war has been heavy, as the first are full of everything. There is no trouble in subsisting an army in this country; plenty abounds.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
DAVID D. PORTER,