War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 0066 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter LIII.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,

New Orleans, La., October 18, 1864.

Major General H. T. SHERMAN, Atlanta, Ga.:

GENERAL: I learn by intercepted dispatch from Jefferson Davis to Kirby Smith, dated at Montgomery on the 30th ultimo, that the orders to cross the Mississippi have been renewed. I presume that duplicate of this dispatch has reached Smith, as Magruder's force, about 18,000 to 20,000 men, suddenly left Steele's front and moved in the direction of Washita River. I have sent a fast boat to communicate this intelligence to the troops and gun-boats on the river, and now, as I have about 8,000 men afloat, and will at once increase the number, I think the crossing can be prevented. The crossing will probably be attempted in the neighborhood of Gaines' Landing.

E. R. S. CANBY,

Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,

New Orleans, La., October 18, 1864.

Rear-Admiral D. G. FARRAGUT,

Commanding West Gulf Blockading Squadron:

ADMIRAL: I received a dispatch yesterday morning from General Steele reporting that the enemy in his front had suddenly fallen back, but that he was unable to account for this unexpected movement. Last night we succeeded in deciphering a captured cipher telegram from Jefferson Davis which, I think, gives the key to the movement. I have sent a fast boat up the river to notify the gun-boats and troops, and believe we shall be able to checkmate the movement. I think the crossing will be attempted in the neighborhood of Gaines' Landing. I have been notified that dispatches in relation to the projected operations from the neighborhood of Mobile will be down by the next steamer from New York; as soon as they are received I will make you a visit. I should have been over before this time, but the affairs in Missouri and Arkansas have kept me busy as well as anxious. Porter takes the North Atlantic Squadron; Pennock desires to get the Manhattan and Tennessee. As the movement of the rebels will probably draw the heavier gun-boats up, I think it will be advisable to send one or two heavy boats to the mouth of Red River until after this matter has been settled.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. R. S. CANBY,

Major-General, Commanding.

CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,

New Orleans, La., October 18, 1864.

SIR: I am instructed by the major-general commanding to call your attention to the following intercepted cipher dispatch, the original of which has doubtless reached its destination:

MONTGOMERY, September 30, 1864.

General E. K. SMITH, Shreveport, La.:

What are you doing to execute the instructions sent you to forward troops to east side of the Mississippi? If success will be more certain you can substitute Wharton's cavalry command for Walker's infantry division, by which you may effect a crossing above that part of the river patrolled by the larger class of gun-boats.

JEFFN. DAVIS.