HDQRS. DIST. OF BATON ROUGE AND PORT HUDSON,
Baton Rouge, La., November 11, 1864.
[Major General S. A. HURLBUT:]
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following as the plan alluded to in my telegram to-day: We will send an officer with sixteen men to-morrow morning, all dressed as Confederates, to proceed, with an escort of 250 cavalry, across the Amite at Davidson's Ford, twenty-seven miles distant. The escort returns, the party goes through the forest, avoiding roads and traveling only at night, to Liberty, Miss. On Monday night it enters Liberty, where is Brigadier-General Hodge and no troops except his escort, numbering between twenty-five and forty men, and endeavors to capture him; if successful, rapidly returning down east side of the Amite, and joins a column of 400 men, which, at 9 a. m. Tuesday, will be twenty miles from Liberty. Monday night a column of 500 cavalry march from this point to Port Hudson secretly, and go into the fort. Monday at dark they march southeast through Jackson, La., and at daylight attack a Confederate camp twenty five miles from Port Hudson. A column moves Monday evening from this point on Clinton, La., separating ten miles from that place and moving on the enemy. All the columns move as rapidly as consistent north toward or beyond Liberty. A force of 150 men will also move from opposite Donaldsonville and join the force moving on the Clinton road at Davidson's Ford. Operations from Liberty will be on the Jackson railroad and in such directions as circumstances may seem to make profitable. We propose to bring in everything which will add to our comfort and convenience and tend to embarrass the military operations of the enemy, including all the negroes we find. Or course, we propose to take everything in a regular way and have it properly accounted for. General Lee will command the expedition. Your senior aide-de-camp spoke to me while here about sending me some of the secret service funds. At the time I declined it, but on reflection I would like to have it, as I am sending out parties almost daily and endeavoring to keep fully advised of the movements of the enemy. One of my spies reports to-day that three days since, while she was at Clinton, two couriers, arrived there from Buckner, who is at Alexandria with 8,000 to 10,000 men. She also says that Governor Allen had ordered all of the Louisiana State troops to the west side of the Mississippi River, and that Brigadier-General Hodge had countermanded the order.
I have the honor to be, with great respect,
W. P. BENTON,
HEADQUARTERS NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Mouth of White River, Ark., November 11, 1864-10 a. m.
COLONEL: I forward the last advices from General Steele received this morning. Have sent copy of General Steele's letter of 9th to General Halleck. Brigadier-General Dennis with two regiments of Second Brigade, Second Division (Slack's), and the Twenty-sixth new York Battery, four guns (Captain Fox), are now going on board boats, and will be off for Devall's Bluff immediately. The remainder of that brigade will probably get off to-morrow morning. I inclose correspondence*