sonburg. The whole matter will be referred to Major Douglas as soon as he arrives. Copies of correspondence with Generals Mouton and Lidell are forwarded for the information of the lieutenant-general commanding.
I hope my anxiety on the subject will be an excuse for again calling the attention of the lieutenant-general commanding to the necessity of directing the chief engineer to remain here until the proposed defensive works are completed; changes of circumstances, unforeseen in the beginning and beyond control, may necessitate changes in original plans, and as such modifications rest entirely with the chief engineer, he should be always near the works, for any considerable delay may prove fatal. The sudden rise or fall of rivers, unwonted falls of rain, unexpected advances of the enemy, either as to time or direction, these are but a few of the conditions against which even the genius of Vauban might not be able to provide. The excessive rains of the last few weeks and the formation of ice to an extent previously unknown in this latitude occasioned so great a delay in the earth-works at Fort De Russy that I unwisely gave my assent to the substitution of iron for earth for a bombproof, on the representations of the local engineers that much time would be saved. I regret the more my unwarrantable interference in that it has occasioned the loss to the works of 200 negroes, as shown by Major Douglas in his letter to Captain Boyd. I trust that a prompt response to all the demands of the engineer department will in future prevent the public interests from suffering and repair past errors.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST LOUISIANA, Alexandria, January 20, 1864.
Major General J. G. WALKER,
GENERAL: I have the honor, by directions of the major-general commanding, to state to you as follows: The major-general commanding is using every exertion to provide Brigadier-General Scurry with the cavalry force he requires. He wishes you, however, to represent to General Scurry that his resources in that arm of the service are at present quite limited, although he will spare no effort to furnish that energetic officer with what he needs. I am further directed to state that the communication containing your views upon the subject of the work at Fort De Russy has been received and has not been acknowledge earlier because the major-general commanding expected to have gone down in person to the fort on yesterday, but has been detained by pressing business. He coincides in opinion with you with respect to the character of the works, particularly with respect to their efficiency when the river is at a medium stage, and he would have directed such alterations of plan to be made as would obviate their present disadvantages. But he has been officially informed by the lieutenant-general commanding that the location and construction of all the defensive works in this district are under the exclusive charge of Major Douglas, who is responsible to the lieutenant-general commanding alone for the operations of his department. Measures have been taken for increasing the working force at Fort De Russy and the raft by calling