War of the Rebellion: Serial 062 Page 1066 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

of, the crew and passengers being secured and the captors secreted. I would order it down the river; and as it is the custom of such transports to hail and round-to alongside these gun-boats to get and put off mails, it would not be difficult to board and capture the first that should be encountered. They are usually lying at anchor in the stream. That being done, and the crew, &c., secured, the 500 men, or so many as could be stowed away, would be transferred to the prize and it made to steam down to the next below, and the course by which it was made ours would be pursued toward its consort and so on for the rest.

To avoid exciting suspicion the accumulated boats should be kept in the rear behind the points as they moved down, and only brought forward in case of resistance or finding two or more lying together. To furnish a supply of force as it was required in the progress of the work it should be arranged to have the men composing the squadrons along the river bank, within striking distance of certain fixed points within their respective beats, between certain days, to be used in case they were wanted, but not to be allowed to know the nature of the service. To make the movement a success secrecy would be an indispensable precaution. From the habits of these gun-boats, which have from 80 to 100 men manning them, I should feel quite confident of capturing a large number of them, especially as there are no means of signaling from one to another, and no telegraphic communication down the river.

If the expedition were successful then the capture of New Orleans would be an easy matter, and Port Hudson, Vicksburg, Helena, and Memphis would follow as things of course. If practicable, it would be such a success as would be worth any expenditure required. If a failure it could only cost the value of a single transport, and we would fall back on the possession of our force on the river bank, which would insure to us immeasurable advantages. I submit this system of proposed measures to you, and ask the necessary authority to raise the cavalry force for the river protection out of such material as is to be found on the river within the enemy's lines, and of exempts elsewhere, and the means of bringing the transport to inaugurate the river movement so soon as I can get ready for it. You will remember that my first commission was to "take charge of the land and water defenses of the Mississippi River," and I have given us much thought to that and kindred subjects as to any others connected with the war.

Hoping to hear from you at your early leisure, I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

P. S.-The moral effect of the organization and vigorous management of such a system for the protection and defense of the river front on the populations of East Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee would alone warrant its inauguration and establishment. The space between Manchac or Lake Maurepas and Cairo extends through 7 degrees of latitude. Four squadrons to each degree will give twenty-eight squadrons, or about, say 6,000 men, requiring sixty pieces of artillery. Grouped into battalions, which report back to colonels commanding and these to district headquarters of Generals Lee and Forrest, and through them to the headquarters of the department, by rapid communications, ought to secure for it such