HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT, Shreveport, January 20, 1864.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT:
One difficulty and embarrassment under which I laborious the want of an assistant at department headquarters of ability, sound judgment, and of administrative capacity; especially should these qualities be combined in the chief of staff, on whose judgment during my absence must I depend in a great measure for the administration of the department. I am not as ably supported in this respect, in my present chief of staff, as the varied and immense responsibilities of my command demand. General Boggs is an officer of merit and ability, and would fill a position in the field with credit.
Singular and irregular as the demand may be, I have to request that Your Excellency will appoint Dr. S. A. Smith, of Louisiana, a brigadier-general, and assign him to duty as my chief of staff. Long and intimately associated, and living together on terms of unreserved friendship, I have had opportunities for learning and appreciating his merits and abilities. A citizen of this department, of spotless integrity, of large fortune and influence, a man of enlarged and comprehensive ideas, with capacity, head, and administrative abilities of a high order, he is qualified for the position of chief of staff or Assistant Secretary of War, should the legislation of the present Congress provide for such an appointment in this department.
I am, respectfully and sincerely, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST LOUISIANA, Alexandria, January 20, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I have postponed my visit to Fort De Russy in order to await the arrival of Major Douglas. The points made in General Walker's report are of importance, especially that referring to want of bearing of the guns of the upper fort when the river is at a medium stage of water. This has excited my attention before, but, of course, I will not make any change in the plan. The chief engineer, whose arrival is hourly looked for, may not attach the same importance to the point; so of the commanding hills in the rear. The design of the works as originally constructed was simply to defend the river; as a self-sustaining work this point becomes of importance. The remaining 9-inch gun and the carriages for the two carronades are anxiously looked for, but no information regarding them has been received. I beg to inclose a copy of report* from Brigadier-General Liddell, and a sketch of his plan.+ General Liddell's intimate knowledge of the country entitles his opinion to some weight. I informed him of my desire to place guns in position at the first high land west of Lake Catahoula, to prevent a landing. His previous acquaintance with the locality, confirmed by recent examination, leads him to recommend an additional work at the junction of the two arms of Little River, shown on the sketch. I will venture to add that I agree fully with General Liddell as to the relative advantages of Trinity and Harri-
+To appear in the Atlas.
57 R R-VOL XXXIV, PT II