for this force was necessary to movements east of the Mississippi; that should his expedition prove successful, he would hold Shreveport and the Red River with such force as he might deem necessary, and return the balance of his troops to the neighborhood of New Orleans, commencing no move for the further acquisition of territory unless it was to make that then held by him more easily held; that it might be a part of the spring campaign to move against Mobile; that it certainly would be if troops enough could be obtained to make it without embarrassing other movements; that New Orleans would be the point of departure for such an expedition; also, that I had directed General Steele to make a real move from Arkansas, as suggested by him (General Banks), instead of a demonstration, as Steele thought advisable.
On the 31st of March, in addition to the foregoing notification and directions, he was instructed as follows:
Major General N. P. BANKS:
First. If successful in your expedition against Shreveport, that you turn over the defense of the Red River to General Steele and the navy.
Second. That you abandon Texas entirely, with the exception of your hold upon the Rio Grande. This can be held with 4,000 men,if they will turn their attention immediately to fortifying their positions. At least one-half of the force required for this service might be taken from the colored troops.
Third. By properly fortifying on the Mississippi River, the force to guard it from Port Hudson to New Orleans can be reduced to 10,000 men, if not to a less number. Six thousand more would then hold all the rest of the territory necessary to hold until active operations can again be resumed west of the river. According to your last returns, this would give you a force of over 30,000 effective men with which to move against Mobile. To this I expect to add 5,000 men from Mississippi. If, however, you think the force here stated too small to hold the territory regarded as necessary to hold possession of, I would say concentrated at least 25,000 men of your present command for operations against Mobile. With these, and such additions as I can give you from elsewhere, lose no time in making a demonstration, to be followed by an attack upon Mobile. Two or more iron-clads will be ordered to report to Admiral Farragut. This gives him a strong naval fleet with which to co-operate. You can make your own arrangements with the admiral for his co-operation, and select your own line of approach. My own idea of the matter is that Pascagoula should be your base; but, from your long service in the Gulf Department, you will know best about the matter. It is intended that your movements shall be co-operative with movements elsewhere, and you cannot now start too soon. All I would now add is that you commence the concentration of your forces at once. Preserve a profound secrecy of what you intend doing, and start at the earliest possible moment.
U. S. GRANT,
Major-General Meade was instructed* that Lee's army would be his objective point; that wherever Lee went he would go also. For his movement two plans presented themselves:One to cross the Rapidan below Lee, moving by his right flank; the other above, moving by his left. Each presented advantages over the other with corresponding objections. By crossing above, Lee would be cut off from all chance of ignoring Richmond or going north on a raid. But if we took this route all we did would have to be done while the rations we started with held out; besides,it separated us from Butler, so that he could not be directed how to co-operate. If we took the other route, Brandy Station could be used as a base of supplies until another was secured on the York or James Rivers. Of these, however,it was decided to take the lower route.
The following letter of instructions was addressed to Major General B. F. Butler:
*See Vol. XXXIII, p.827.