the report of General Walker, who was directed by me to give personal attention to these important works. Constant occupation here and an attack of illness have so far prevented me from visiting the work, which I intend doing to-day. In several former communications I have pointed out the difficulties resulting from a want of labor and tools. The economy of labor and time led me to approve the change in the manner of covering the casemate, which was earnestly desired by the engineers in charge. You will observe that in consequence of this change approved by me, the district commander, the 200 negroes en route are to be stopped. Utter confusion must necessarily follow this condition of affairs. When I applied for an engineer officer, I did not for a moment suppose that I surrendered my volition and all control of my district. I wished the benefit of the best engineering advice that could be obtained, reserving the right to make such modifications in proposed plans as might appear best for the service.
A statement of what has been done, or rather what has not been done, in the way of defensive works seems proper. When General Banks occupied Alexandria last spring, I caused some guns to be placed in position at Grand Ecore to prevent the ascent of the river to the enemy's gun-boats.
During the operations near Milliken's Bend and on the La Fourche, for the purpose of making diversion in favor of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, a company under Captain Hutton was left at Grand Ecore in charge of these guns. In the latter part of July, after my withdrawal from the La Fourche, I received a communication from the lieutenant-general commanding directing me to push on the works at Grand Ecore. As stated in reply, this was the first intimation I had received of works in progress at that point. Major Levy, assistant adjutant and inspector general on my staff, was sent at once to Grand Ecore, where he found Captain Gotthiel [recently relieved from duty with me on my report of his entire incompetency as an engineer], acting under orders from Major Douglas, chief engineer of the department. Major Levy's report was forwarded to department headquarters, with my indorsement, setting forth the reasons why Grand Ecore was not deemed a suitable point for defensive works, and suggesting some point below the mouth of Cane River, at Plaisance or vicinity.
The lieutenant-general commanding then ordered his chief engineer to inspect the position of Grand Ecore, which was done, and a report made against the continuation of the work. I have never understood why the engineer who projected and ordered the work at Grand Ecore should afterward report against it, unless he failed in the first instance to see the disadvantages of the position. Had the point now selected, in the vicinity of Plaisance, and eminently proper for defense, been adopted, it would be in a state of completion at this time. It is proper to add that all the axes and entrenching tools of the district were turned over by Captain Gotthiel to the chief engineer, and it has been found impossible to replace them.
The condition of the country for some time after the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson will be remembered. Not only were the people disheartened, but Grant's large army threatened this whole country. Expeditions occupied Monroe and Harrisonburg, and a force at Morganza seemed about to advance on the Atchafalaya. The policy of this commander was to induce the planters to remove their slaves from the threatened region, and many were taken to