Chapter 42: Red River expedition.--continued.
- Building of the famous Red River dam at the falls. -- difficulties overcome by Colonel Bailey. -- communications between General Banks and Admiral Porter. -- General McClernand attacked by the Confederates. -- the Ragged guerillas are unexpectedly provided with new outfits. -- cotton steamers attacked and disabled. -- Admiral Porter's report on the building of the dam. -- the fleet passes the falls. -- names of officers and regiments engaged in building the dam. -- burning of Alexandria. -- the end of the Red River expedition. -- cause of failure. -- results. -- correspondence between Generals Sherman, Banks, Halleck, Grant and others. -- dispatches and orders. -- review of the operations of the Navy. -- General Banks' story of the expedition. -- letter of General Kilby Smith. -- extract from reports by Captain Burns, acting -- Assistant Adjutant-General. -- the Confederate view of the situation. -- extract from General Banks' report. -- recapitulation.
General Franklin had mentioned to Admiral Porter at Grand Ecore, on his stating that the naval vessels could not pass the Falls at the then stage of water, that Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey had suggested a plan of raising the water above the Falls by building wing-dams. Colonel Bailey had had great experience in lumbering, and had frequently resorted to this method to raft timber in shallow rivers. The Admiral paid little attention to this suggestion at the time, and expressed his doubts of the practicability of getting large vessels down in that way. When he met General Franklin again in Alexandria, he recurred to this proposal of Bailey's, and Franklin was so satisfied with the feasibility of the scheme that the Admiral asked him to send Colonel Bailey to him at once, and the latter soon appeared, in company with Colonel James Grant Wilson. The Admiral was so impressed with Bailey's plans that he agreed with him that they ought to be tried, and he was surprised in reading General Franklin's evidence before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, where he states as follows:
When we returned to Grand Ecore, I sent Colonel Bailey to Admiral Porter, so that he might present his plan to the Admiral; but it was looked upon with derision as a foolish thing. I was, however, convinced that Colonel Bailey knew his business very well, and sent him to Admiral Porter again; and, after he got down to Alexandria, I sent him two or three times. Finally, I sent him to General Banks. to try and impress upon the General the necessity for giving the orders for details of men to build the dam. General Hunter was there at the time, and he told General Banks that he thought, as I had recommended the thing, he ought to try it; and it was tried. I have the report of Colonel Bailey to my adjutant-general, which gives all these facts, as I have stated them here.General Franklin's memory was certainly treacherous here, for the statement above quoted is incorrect in several particulars. The Admiral was only too glad to grasp at any plan likely to extricate his vessels from their unfortunate predicament; and this will appear by Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey's report. There was no objection on the part of the Admiral to anything, but he had no power to build a dam which would require half the army to perform the work. General Banks was the man to be consulted, for on him depended the execution of the work. No doubt, Franklin and Bailey worked assiduously to get every one to think favorably of the plan of damming the river, and  the Admiral went in person to General Banks, as soon as he could leave a sick-bed, and urged him to try Bailey's plan. Not much time was lost in consultation, for the order to build the dam was given by General Banks immediately, and the work commenced on the 30th of April. The Admiral arrived in Alexandria on the evening of the 27th, and conferred with Colonel Bailey and General Banks on the morning of the 28th, when the order was issued. Where all this indisposition to adopt Bailey's plan appears, we are at a loss to imagine. In fact, we are not aware that any one opposed the dam — if any did, they were persons whose opinion had no influence. The Army engineers may have doubted the practicability of the scheme, never having had experience in that kind of engineering; or General Banks may have said, “Wait till the Admiral arrives.” But even those who doubted the feasibility of the plan were in favor of trying it, especially as it had been recommended by General Franklin, an engineer officer. It seems to us that so much effort to show that there was a great opposition to Bailey's plan, demonstrates a desire to enhance the value of the recommendations of those who first favored the idea. General Banks, from whom alone authority could come for the employment of troops to build the dam, entered into the scheme with alacrity and pushed the work from beginning to end. General Banks, in his testimony before the committee, said: “But Admiral Porter did not seem to think much of the plan, as he expressed it in his way — if damning would get the fleet off. he would have been afloat long before” --but Banks could not understand a joke. Colonel Bailey, in his report, says: “Admiral Porter furnished a detail from his ships' crews under command of an excellent officer, Captain Langthorne, of the Mound City. All his officers and men were constantly present, and to their extraordinary exertions, and to the well-known energy and ability of the Admiral, much of the success of the undertaking was due.” A great mass of testimony was taken by the “Committee on the conduct of the war” in relation to the building of the dam, and an attempt was made to cast odium upon the Navy in order to divert attention from the real subject at issue — Banks' retreat — but the attempt was a failure. Every man in the fleet was engaged in the operations connected with the construction of the dam, conveying stone in boats to weight the big cob-frames forming the dam. moving the frames into position — a tedious and dangerous duty — and floating down the logs which were cut and hauled by the soldiers to the river banks. Many boats had to be kept lying on their oars day and night ready with hawsers, and at least three thousand soldiers were constantly working up to their necks in water. While this was going on, all the forges in the fleet were employed in making long iron bolts to bind the dam together. Getting the iron off the sides of the vessels to lighten them — a most harassing and difficult job — employed many men. In addition, all the heaviest guns had to be taken on shore. Thus, while the dam was under construction, the sailors worked night and day; and every four hours a report of progress was made to the Admiral But General Ranks, in his evidence before the Committee, says, when the right wing of the dam broke away, “I immediately rode up to the fleet to see if they were prepared to move by daylight in the morning. It was a couple of miles above the dam. When I got there, there was not a light to be seen, not a man was stirring, not a ship had been lightened” [!]. (Army gun-wheels had already taken the guns to the levee in Alexandria, and army wagons had removed all stores and ammunition, and the iron-clads had thrown their iron plating into deep water up river). “I could not arouse anybody there. I went down to my headquarters, and wrote a letter to Admiral Porter” [No such letter was ever received, if it was written], “stating my belief that it was not possible for the dam to stand, and, if it was carried away, it did not seem as if we could replace it” [How did the General expect the vessels to get through, unless part of the dam was removed?]; “that I had been up to see his fleet, and found every one asleep, and I feared they would not be ready to move by morning. This letter was delivered to him (the Admiral) by Colonel Wilson, at 1 o'clock (A. M.) that night. Admiral Porter said he would attend to it,” etc., etc. Further along, General Banks says: “I went to the dam next morning, at 7 o'clock, just in time to see the dam swept away. The gun-boats were just then moving, and it would have taken them all day to move down. We thought the game was up, but officers and men were ready to recommence the work, and suggested other plans, which had been talked of before.” The fact is, what Colonel Bailey expected came to pass. The three large barges, loaded with cotton and iron, swung around and made an opening or gate in the dam fifty feet wide, just sufficient for the passage of the vessels. The barges swung against the rocks, and afforded a good cushion for the vessels to strike on as they passed down. The opening did not diminish the depth of water above the dam, and the three vessels  that had found water enough to pass the upper Falls had gone through the gap in the dam, under full head of steam, almost directly after it opened. The other vessels had not water enough to pass the upper Falls, and had to wait until it was furnished them. The Admiral was on the spot before General Banks was, and had given the necessary directions for the vessels to pass through. Having critically examined the Falls, he saw that the break in the dam was rather an advantage than a mishap. Colonel Bailey was not at all dismayed, but coolly went to work building wing-dams above the upper Falls, which he intended to do anyway, so that all the vessels passed down in safety. While the wing-darns were in process of construction, everything that could be taken from the vessels to lighten them, and had not previously been removed, was hauled around the Falls by army teams, and not a moment was lost that could be avoided. But General Banks, when he saw the break in the dam, thought, to use his own expression--“the game was up” --and commenced writing the Admiral letters, informing him of what the latter had rather anticipated, viz.: that Banks would have to leave him, etc., etc. However, as General A. J. Smith had promised to stand by the Navy to the last, the Admiral did not care much whether Banks went or stayed, so long as he could retain Bailey and A. J. Smith. He had no apprehension of not getting through; for, with Smith's division and the gun-boats, the Navy could have held this position against all the Confederate forces at that time on Red River. The Admiral got very tired of General Banks' letters. He at first tried to soothe him, but at length sent him the following communication, which put an end to the correspondence:
General Banks had become considerably demoralized on account of the Confederates having gained a position on Red River, at Dunn's Bayou, thirty miles below Alexandria, and he believed the report that they were preparing to hold this strong position with ten to fifteen thousand men. The position was really strong only against light-armed vessels, but was easily turned; and the proof of this is that the enemy evacuated the place as soon as the large gun-boats passed the Falls. It was, indeed, a great blunder to allow the enemy to get between the army and the Mississippi; but for this Banks was not to blame. He had assigned General McClernand, with the whole of his army corps, to guard the main road three miles in the rear of Alexandria, with the understanding that no enemy was to be allowed to pass, under any circumstances; but General McClernand had joined the Army under  a cloud, was in a very unamiable mood, and did not seem to care whether the Army and Navy got out of their difficulties or not. The enemy, on the 28th of April, attacked McClernand's position with 6,000 men, taking him completely by surprise, and creating a temporary panic in his camp. During the confusion they set fire to the forage and clothing, and passed down the road with some twenty pieces of artillery, hidden by the smoke, which was their object in making the attack. At this time the Admiral was at General A. J. Smith's camp, about two miles from that of McClernand. Smith immediately ordered his men under arms, and they rode together to the scene of action, where everything seemed in dire confusion. Smith posted his men to the best advantage in advance of the 13th corps; and they remained under arms until daylight next morning, without hearing any more from the Confederates, who had accomplished all they wanted, viz.: to pass below Alexandria to Dunn's Bayou, and fortify that position strongly with field artillery. General McClernand, not satisfied with the havoc committed by the enemy, ordered his men to set fire to a quantity of sutlers' goods and forage, which latter was extremely scarce; and it would all have been destroyed if General A. J. Smith had not taken charge and extinguished the fire. Smith's soldiers were not in as good trim as many others, and the title “ragged guerillas” given them by Banks — which soubriquet pleased them so much that they adopted it — might, to the casual observer, seem appropriate. After putting out the fire, however, they marched back to camp completely dressed in new uniforms, leaving their old ones to McClernand's chief quarter-master, so as to make his accounts all square. When McClernand insisted on A. J. Smith's giving up the clothing, that old veteran, who, from long association with the Navy, was familiar with the prize laws, declined to do so, as his men had recaptured them from the enemy, and held them according to the laws of war; so General McClernand never recovered an article that “the ragged guerillas” had appropriated. McClernand allowed his pickets to be driven in, and was unprepared to prevent the enemy from turning his position. He seems to have made no use of his cavalry to acquaint him with the enemy's advance. In short, McClernand was inert, and, do what you might with him, you could not make a military man. We will do General Banks the justice to say that he did all that a man could do to extricate the gun-boats from their difficulties, and, although he differed with the Admiral on some matters, there was none in this respect. Other things occurred about this time to disturb General Banks. Cotton had been hauled into Alexandria by army teams, to the amount of some 20,000 bales, and it was desirable that a portion of it at least should reach New Orleans. Whether this was on account of the U. S. Government, or was the property of speculators, does not appear. A large steamer, the Warner, was filled with cotton at Alexandria and dispatched with 400 soldiers on board to New Orleans. The Admiral was asked for a convoy and sent the two best gun-boats he could spare that were below the Falls, the Signal and Covington. On the 4th of May all three vessels started down the river, with little thought of much opposition. While passing a plantation, the Warner was fired into by a company of infantry, and one man on board of her was killed. Being well protected by cotton bales, infantry fire was not much dreaded. The fire of the Covington soon drove off the Confederates; but this was only an earnest of what was to follow. Next morning, on arriving at Dunn's Bayou, the Warner in advance, and the two “tin-clad” gun-boats bringing up the rear, the former vessel was attacked by a battery, supported by a large force of infantry. The Warner's rudder became disabled, causing her to run into the bank, when another battery and some six thousand infantry opened on the vessel, completely riddling her. The Signal and Covington opened their batteries; but the enemy were in too strong force to contend against, and the three vessels were soon cut to pieces with a terrible cross-fire of artillery and infantry. Acting-Volunteer Lieutenant G. P. Lord, the officer in command, tried to burn the Warner to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy; but, when informed by the colonel commanding the sol. diers that there were 125 killed and wounded on the decks, Lord gave up the idea; and his own vessel, the Covington, being entirely disabled, he shortly afterwards removed the dead and wounded to shore under a heavy fire, destroyed the ship by setting fire to her, and, with the remnant of his gallant crew, escaped to the woods on the side opposite the enemy. Out of 14 officers and 62 men, Lieutenant Lord could only assemble 9 officers and 23 men, some of whom were killed in trying to escape up the bank. The Signal being too much disabled to reach the bank, in order to get the wounded ashore, the commanding officer was obliged to surrender. The Warner was sacked  and burned by the enemy, and the Signal, after her guns and ammunition had been removed, was sunk across the channel to obstruct it. The brave men in these vessels, only musket-proof, defended them four or five hours, and many of the actions heralded to the world during the late war were much less worthy of notice than this contest between two little gun-boats and twenty pieces of artillery, most of which had been captured from Banks' army above Pleasant Hill. The attacking party of Confederates was the one that had pushed past General McClernand's corps with artillery, to mount it at Dunn's Bayou, on the river. They succeeded perfectly; and, selecting three commanding points, they were ready for any transports or light gun-boats that might come along. These light-draft gunboats, be it remembered, were only the small stern-wheel steamboats of the Mississippi, their sides built up with light plank and covered with quarter-inch iron. No attempt to follow the Confederates was made when they pushed on past McClernand's corps, although a child might have known where they were bound; but every preparation was made to repel an attack on Alexandria, which the Confederates had not the slightest idea of making. They were not foolish enough to attack 36,000 men, advantageously posted and supplied with a large quantity of artillery. when they had afar inferior force. General Banks should have seized and fortified the important points along the river, which, with the assistance of even the light-draft vessels of the Navy, could have been held against all the force the enemy had in that region. The two commanders-in-chief had but little personal intercourse — a state of affairs which was not conducive to the perfect understanding which should subsist between the Army and Navy in a co-operative expedition. This want of harmony was not the Admiral's fault. He lay five days sick and unable to leave his bed, during which time Banks went to see him but once, and then in company with General David Hunter. His errand was to ascertain “which of your vessels can you best afford to destroy — for I must march — if there is any chance that any of them will delay us?” The Admiral was in pain and not in the best of humor, and replied: “I will destroy none of them, and if you choose to march you may do so, for General A. J. Smith has promised to stand by me until we are over the Falls, after which I will take care of Smith.” No more was heard of General Banks' marching for another day or two. But to return to the dam. This had, in common parlance, “carried away,” but in reality had made a natural and safe opening for the passage of the fleet. Not to make the narrative too tedious, we here insert Admiral Porter's report of the building of the dam, etc., and it will show the credit given to every one engaged. We are sure a comparison of this report with the published evidence of General Banks will convince any one of the Admiral's impartiality:
The Ozark, a large iron-clad, was the last vessel to pass the dam, and it was feared at one time that she would have to be abandoned, for General Banks took up his line of march the moment he thought the vessels all through, apparently forgetting that they had still to get their guns and stores on board; but, as General A. J. Smith remained to bring up the rear, the Navy was not greatly troubled by General Banks' movements. For two or three days before the troops and vessels left Alexandria, the army teams had been employed in hauling cotton to the levee, and every army transport had been loaded with the staple to the amount of 20,000 bales. The 13th and 19th corps began to move on the 13th of May, the former under General McClernand, the latter under General Emory; but as the rear of the advanced corps left Alexandria, fire broke out in several parts of the town. Whether the fire was the work of soldiers or negroes, large numbers of the latter being congregated here in the hope of transportation out of Red River by the army, has never been clearly established. Just as the fire broke out, an order came from General Banks to put all the cotton from the transports on the levee, a difficult task; and everybody wondered why, after taking so much trouble to put the cotton on board, the General should now be so anxious to get rid of it. However, the cotton was thrown ashore among the burning  fragments that were falling all around. The town was seemingly in a blaze from one end to the other, and the miserable inhabitants crowded the river banks with such personal effects as they could save from the flames. There was never beheld a more heartrending scene, and all felt indignant that it should transpire under the eyes of the General commanding an army, without any effort being made to extinguish the flames. The army had enjoyed such hospitality as these poor people could afford while it occupied their town, and the inhabitants were fed with the delusive hope that General Banks would occupy Alexandria until the close of the war. All, therefore, who had any Union feelings were encouraged to declare themselves and benefit by the opportunities offered them to trade, and all such were now to be left to the tender mercies of the Confederates. Out of the hundreds of negroes who had been promised transportation for themselves, their families and their effects, very few got away, and the last that was seen of these poor wretches, they sat down in despair upon the river bank, where they had conveyed their little all to try and escape the conflagration. The Admiral was the last one to leave Alexandria, having remained to see that nothing belonging to the Navy was forgotten, but he could do nothing to help these people. The Cricket was a very small vessel, and could not accommodate the thousandth part of those who had expected to take passage in the transports. The Navy was powerless to help them, and as the rear of General A. J. Smith's division marched out of Alexandria, the Cricket started down the river to join the gun-boats. For miles down could be seen the flames of the burning town, and every now and then a fresh outbreak of fire and dense smoke would occur, doubtless from cotton stored in secret places igniting. Although it was not known who set fire to the town, the people were satisfied that it could have been extinguished by a detachment of soldiers, but nothing was done in that direction. The Confederates could have had no object in destroying the place, and the negroes had shown no disposition to take advantage of their former masters and plunder or destroy their property. It may have been a case of “spontaneous combustion” ; but, however originating, the fact that the fire was not extinguished was disgraceful to humanity, and although we cannot but think the vindictive promoters of the war deserved some of the misfortunes which overtook them, yet the burning of Alexandria inflicted punishment on a people by whom it was totally undeserved. It is only fair to General Banks to give his version of the burning of Alexandria. On the 28th of March, 1865, nearly a year after the event, in a report, wherein he seeks to justify himself for the conduct of the campaign and to throw the blame for his mismanagement on others, he says:
Rumors were circulated freely through the camp at Alexandria, that upon the evacuation of the town it would be burned. [We never heard any such rumors.] To prevent this destruction of property, part of which belonged to loyal citizens, General Grover, commanding the post, was instructed to organize a thorough police, and to provide for its occupation by an armed force until the army had marched to Simmsport. The measures taken were sufficient to prevent a conflagration in the manner in which it had been anticipated; but on the morning of the evacuation, while the army was in full possession of the town, a fire broke out in a building on the levee, which had been occupied by refugees or soldiers, [what soldiers?] in such a manner as to make it impossible to prevent a general conflagration. I saw the fire when it was first discovered, the ammunition and ordnance transports and the depot of ammunition on the levee were within a few yards of the fire; the boats were floated out into the river and the ammunition moved from the levee with all possible dispatch. The troops labored with alacrity and vigor to suppress the conflagration; but owing to a high wind and the combustible material of the buildings, it was found impossible to limit its progress, and a considerable portion of the town was destroyed.The intelligent reader will naturally wonder how a town could be destroyed with such a small beginning, while so large an army remained near; but General Banks is as inaccurate in regard to this matter as in many other respects in his report. After leaving Alexandria, the advance of the army was commanded by General Emory, and the rear was protected by General A. J. Smith. The flag-ship Cricket overtook the army — which followed the river road with the gun-boats close by-just as they were encamping for the night. The troops had not been molested, except by sharp-shooters, who fell back on their main body as General Emory advanced. No more of General Banks was seen by the Navy until the flag-ship reached the Atchafalaya, where the transports had assembled, under cover of the gun-boats, to embark the army, an operation which was safely effected on the 21st of May. Here, again. Colonel Bailey's services were called into requisition to build a bridge of transports, and part of the army, which had to march to the mouth of the Red River, crossed in that way. There was some skirmishing on the way down and the gun-boats now and then shelled the woods to drive away the enemy; but the latter continually retreated before the army and made only one dash at the rear as it was crossing the bridge of transports. General A. J. Smith turned on them and captured 350 of their number.  As there was no further occasion for the Admiral's presence, he left the gun-boats to cover the army and embarked in a tug to join his flag-ship, the Black Hawk, at the mouth of Red River. Here he found General Canby, who had been sent to relieve Banks, and was waiting the Admiral's arrival before he assumed command. Thus ended the Navy's connection with the Red River expedition, the most disastrous one that was undertaken during the war. In whatever we write in relation to the late war, we try to divest ourselves of all prejudice, and nothing that we can say will bear half so hard upon Banks and his supporters as many of the articles written at the time by persons serving immediately under the General's command. We do not know whether the twenty-two years which have elapsed since the events we narrate took place, is a sufficient period in which to write a history; but, as the States have become reconstructed, and the animosities of the war seem in good part to have vanished, we think we have a right to suppose that we can present an impartial narrative, actuated solely by a desire to state the truth, which has not generally been told in reference to the Red River expedition. Banks and his friends have told the story in a manner to suit their political interests, which are apparently all they care about. No one has ever, so far as we are aware, undertaken to correct the misrepresentations made against the officers of the Navy, probably because these attacks were considered harmless on account of the evident malice which prompted them. Considering the ill-results attending the Red River expedition and its unfortunate termination, comparatively little, strange to say, has been said or written about it. Certain newspaper reporters, having exchanged their citizens' clothing for a military garb, were constantly riding about picking up “items” for the Northern press, and doing all they could to divert attention from General Banks by dwelling on what they were pleased to call “the shortcomings of the Navy.” One of their principal points was that the expedition was a failure, partly because the Navy commenced collecting cotton along the river in violation of an understanding General Banks had with the Confederates. From this it would appear that the Union Army entered the Red River country for the purpose of securing the vast amount of cotton therein for the benefit of Northern manufactories, which were suffering from a scarcity of that material. The idea that the Navy caused the Confederates to burn their cotton and assume a hostile attitude, because it seized some of the staple, is absurd. If the cotton was to be taken out of the country for the benefit of the United States, it did not matter who took it, as long as the Government received it, which it was sure to do if captured by the Navy. All the cotton seized by the Navy was taken according to law, sent to the U. S. Marshal at Cairo, Illinois, and every form gone through with to avoid loss. Out of the many thousand bales sent to Cairo not a pound was lost or unaccounted for. In seizing cotton, the naval officers acted by direct authority of the Navy and Treasury Departments; besides, the laws of war authorized them to take possession of all contraband goods and make a return thereof to the Government. So carefully were these returns made out that to this day claimants for cotton seized on Red River, etc., consult naval receipt-books in perfect faith, knowing that the account of every cotton transaction will be found carefully registered. On first entering Red River the vessels of the Navy commenced taking possession of cotton within half-a-mile of the banks, that being as far as they could go for want of transportation, and in and near Alexandria they received three thousand bales, mostly marked “C. S. A.,” the Confederate Government having purchased at a low figure a large portion of the cotton in the trans-Mississippi States, hoping to get it to a market some time or other. The Admiral also ordered three thousand bales, seized up the Washita River, which was not considered within the limits of this expedition. Nearly five hundred bales of the first lot picked up near Alexandria was returned to the owners on their furnishing proof that it was their private property. Some persons belonging to the Navy on one occasion went back three miles into the country with a couple of mule-teams, for the purpose of bringing out Confederate cotton; but, as this interfered with Army arrangements in the cotton business, the party was turned back by the pickets, and their expedition was almost barren of results. What we have stated embraces all that the Navy did in the way of seizing cotton. Never, after leaving Alexandria to go up the river, did a naval vessel interfere with cotton except in some cases to pick up bales floating in the stream; and as it was not desired that the officers and men should be diverted from what was considered the main object of the expedition, viz., the capture of Shreveport, all this cotton was thrown overboard. In regard to cotton, General Banks and the Admiral were playing at cross purposes  from the beginning to the end of the campaign. Had the General communicated freely with him in regard to his plans, or shown him any instructions which would have authorized him to call upon the Navy to assist in reclaiming cotton, much as the Admiral would have disliked seeing the Navy subordinated to so ignoble an enterprise he would still have co-operated to the best of his ability. General Banks, however, did nothing of the kind. He represented that his only object was to carry out the orders of General Halleck, dated Washington, November 9, 1862, viz.: “To ascend the Red River with a military and naval force as far as it is navigable, and thus open an outlet for the sugar and cotton of northern Louisiana.” With regard to the originators of this expedition and their motives we will speak in another place; our present object is to expose the misrepresentations made against the Navy in regard to cotton, although we might well rest on the statement of Hon. D. M. Gooch, M. C., who drew up the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, in which he says: “Whatever there may have been of feeling between the Army and the Navy in relation to the seizure of cotton, an examination of all the testimony will show that the military operations were not interfered with by any operation in cotton; the delays at the points where those operations were carried out were occasioned wholly by other causes.” Mr. Gooch, and one or two other members of the committee favorable to Banks, tried to draw the attention of the public from the latter's mistakes to what they wished to make appear as complaints against the Navy. The attempt was not a success, since nothing was shown by any credible evidence in regard to naval cotton operations beyond what we have stated above The most that could be stated by any of the witnesses, some of whom were not at all particular in confining themselves to the truth, was that the Navy seized cotton as contraband of war and refused to give receipts for it; which was not the case, as receipts were given, in every instance, by which those persons who established a claim to any of the cotton received the value of it, after the war, through the United States courts. Any one who will take the trouble to read the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, will see that in the vast amount of evidence given, some of it by persons very unfriendly to the Navy, there is nothing to implicate the latter in anything they were not in duty bound to do. When General Kilby Smith was asked by the committee what he understood to be the object of the expedition, he answered:
It has been a mystery to me, save what transpired en route. In my own mind, I came to the conclusion it was what might be called, in military parlance. a mercantile expedition, that is, an expedition for the purpose of opening the country to trade, or, perhaps, taking advantage of a victorious march to gather up what might naturally fall to the Army or Government in spoils,which is, for General Kilby Smith, a pretty fair way of putting it. That the expedition was also designed to hold some prominent point in Texas there is no doubt; but it is no less a fact that it degenerated into a cotton raid, for the benefit of individuals at the expense of the Government. That the expedition was unwise and unmilitary no one now hesitates to assert, for all can see what was seen then by many, that it should never have been undertaken at all. After the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the Federals held both banks of the Mississippi, and gun-boats had access to its tributaries for at least a hundred miles into the heart of the enemy's country. It was desirable that everything west of the Mississippi should be kept there, and it was to the Federal advantage that the Confederates should be left to support the large force of their troops in that quarter, who were eating the inhabitants out of house and home, and, with the recklessness of half-disciplined soldiers, destroying twice as much as they could consume. The enemy had not sufficient force to attempt any serious offensive movements, and simply lived on the inhabitants, who were heartily tired of them and their cause. If the United States Government was anxious that the cotton should come out, it was only necessary to proclaim to the inhabitants of Louisiana that the country was open to trade, and that permits would be given for cotton and sugar to be shipped to New Orleans. Such a course would have benefitted the North much more than an expensive military expedition, even had the latter been successful. It may be argued that the Confederate generals would have prevented the execution of such a project, but from the fact that Gen. Kirby Smith entered into an arrangement to let cotton go out under the auspices of General Banks, and that the officers captured while shipping cotton to New Orleans from the west bank of the Mississippi were in the Confederate service, we are inclined to believe there would have been little difficulty in this connection. The cotton and sugar in Louisiana, after the Mississippi was opened, was virtually lost to the Confederates, public and private. Much of the cotton had been for three years lying but partially protected, and some of it  had rotted. We saw one pile of six hundred bales so decayed as to be absolutely worthless. The Confederates had no means of transporting the cotton across the country to the sea-coast except by wagons, a proceeding that would not have paid expenses, and General Banks when he arrived at Alexandria should have recognized that fact, if he did not know it before. It would have been the simplest thing in the world for General Banks to have held Alexandria, which is exactly in the centre of western Louisiana, and lies on a large river, by which he could at all times be supplied with stores and reinforcements. He had everything to justify him in adopting this course, even if his original orders were to invade Texas through the Red River region. General Grant, after becoming Commander-in-chief of the western armies. directed Banks, on or before the 5th of May, to return General A. J. Smith's command to General Sherman, and that he should march upon Mobile with what forces he had. As Banks paid no attention to this command, he was guilty of disobedience of orders. He did not move from Alexandria upon Shreveport until the 29th of March, and there was not time between that date and the 5th of May to accomplish the campaign, even with uninterrupted success, which no one but Banks himself counted on. Banks' holding Alexandria and opening the country to commerce would probably not have been opposed by the Confederate generals; but when he attempted to move into the heart of the country at the same time that Steele with a large army was advancing to join him, the Confederates saw that it was the subjugation of all Louisiana and the invasion of Texas that was contemplated. Banks finally accomplished for the Confederates more than they could have hoped to do for themselves, turning their trans-Mississippi department from a rather harmless affair into one of importance, provided with powerful artillery and small arms captured from his army. The Confederates thus encouraged assembled a large army, composed of Texans and others, under enterprising leaders, who animated their men with their own spirit, and, encouraged by their unexpected success against the Federal arms, were getting ready to resume that system of warfare the Navy experienced so much trouble in breaking up. If they did not put their old tactics in operation. it was because they deemed it wiser to let well alone, having driven one of the best appointed of the Union armies out of their country. General Banks labored under the disadvantage not only of having some inefficient staff-officers, but of not being in accord with the officers of the regular Army who commanded the 13th, 16th and 19th corps. Most of the civilians who undertook the command of armies were wise enough to select a capable soldier as chief of-staff and surrounded themselves with as much military talent as possible; but Banks having previously succeeded in all that he had undertaken, having been a popular Governor and Speaker of the House of Representatives, thought himself equal in military abilities to any army officer; and although in every operation of consequence undertaken by him he failed of success, yet he assumed as much as Caesar did after he had conquered the world. The duties of the chief-of-staff of a civilian general were much more important than those of the chief-of-staff of a regular officer, and the Government, recognizing the possible inexperience of their volunteer generals, endeavored to place with each of them an officer of experience, whose duties were so onerous as hardly gave him time to eat or sleep. The history of the civil war establishes that, wherever these educated chiefs-of-staff were supported by their civilian generals, the latter got along much better than those who, like Banks, chose to ignore the chief-of-staff altogether. It was plain to any one from the beginning of naval intercourse with General Banks, that he and General Stone were not on good terms, and that Banks relied chiefly on one of his aides, who had received no regular military training, and was about as ignorant of the art of war as it was possible for a man to be. Before the Army left Alexandria any one could see that General Stone did not exercise the influence over military movements that a chief-of-staff should, and this became more apparent in the advance towards Shreveport in the matter of assigning proper positions to the different portions of the Army, and in other respects; for a chief-of-staff is supposed to be on the most confidential terms with the Commander-in-chief, and is in duty bound to see his plans carried out. General Banks complains that Stone's judgment was not good, and therefore he had to rely on some one else. He states that although General Stone was on the field at Sabine Cross Roads all day, yet he did not insist on the concentration of the Federal forces, nor did he seem to be aware that the enemy were in force in his front. Now, Banks was on the field himself, and did not do any of the things he blames Stone for not doing.  From all we can learn, General Stone was untiring in his efforts to perform his duty at Pleasant Hill, yet at the close of the engagement he was removed from his position and General Dwight put in his place. It was necessary to make a scapegoat of some one; and as Stone was unpopular with the general public, on account of the disaster at Ball's Bluff, he was selected to bear the blame of failure. General Stone was perfectly subordinate and desirous to make himself acceptable to General Banks, though he would not lend himself to any of the doubtful proceedings carried on under the eye of the commanding general. General Stone was particularly careful that due courtesy should be paid to tie Navy and all proper requests granted. We think he had the highest respect of Franklin, Emory and A. J. Smith, which is a creditable proof of his capacity. We believe Colonel Clarke did everything in his power to supersede General Stone in General Banks' favor. Clarke, by his own account, was in the advance during the hardest of General Lee's fighting, having joined him with orders to “press the fighting.” From Lee he returned to General Banks at Pleasant Hill, and gave it as his opinion that Lee was in a dangerous position, at least eight miles from infantry support, in immediate presence of a superior force, and that he would be attacked by daylight. He thought Lee should be reinforced by one infantry brigade! but says nothing about Lee's being helped out of the scrape until the main body of the army should come up, notwithstanding Banks had expressed his surprise that the advance-guard had not been composed of infantry, cavalry and artillery. In all the evidence given by Colonel Clarke before the committee, it is evident he wishes to relieve Banks of any responsibility and throw the blame on others, as if the general commanding should not know all that was going on and be held responsible for the bad arrangements of his army. After Stone was removed. General Dwight became chief-of-staff; but if it was intended to benefit by his services as a military adviser, it was too late to do so. On general subjects connected with this expedition, Dwight's opinion was very clear, and we think he condemned the plan as much as any one. General Dwight's opinions in regard to cotton transactions a-re worth notice. He does not hesitate to say that the object of the expedition was a mercantile one, for the purpose of getting out cotton; but he is wrong in his assertion that, had not the Navy seized the cotton, the enemy would not have commenced burning it. What cotton the Navy seized was below Alexandria. They never touched a bale after leaving that place, and the enemy never commenced burning until the Army was on its march to Grand Ecore, which seemed to be the signal for the destruction of the cotton. The enemy had no means of knowing whether the Navy was seizing cotton or not. It was the army trains that went ten miles into the interior to pick it up, and it was a well-known fact that the naval authorities surrendered every bale which was shown to be private property. Constant applications were made to the Admiral and to his officers to seize cotton which had been bought up by speculators, and send it to Cairo for them, which was invariably declined, although all the protection asked for was given when their cotton was on board a transport. Very few of these people desired to have their cotton get into the hands of the Army, for they had to pay the quartermaster ten dollars a bale for transportation, with no certainty of getting possession of their property in the end; while hundreds of ales which had been seized by the Navy were returned to their owners in Cairo, Illinois, without any expense for transportation. These facts were proved in evidence by Lieutenant-Commander K. R. Breese, of the Navy, and others, and many instances could be cited from the books kept at Cairo. Illinois, by Captain A. M. Pennock, Chief-of-Staff. If this expedition was intended as a commercial one, the Army and Navy commanders should have received such instructions that there would have been no clashing of interests; but while Banks was sent up the Red River as he supposed on a special mission “to let the cotton come within the Federal lines,” which was done by sending out escorted wagons for it, the Admiral was under instructions to seize it as contraband of war wherever he could find it. No method of getting the cotton out of the country was indicated; and as the Navy succeeded in turning over to the Government 6,000 bales from the Red and Washita Rivers. their plan worked better than did that of General Banks. All the inhabitants of the country cared for was to get their cotton out, trusting to the future for payment, for there was not a single intelligent person in that region who did not know how the war must terminate; and, although they intended to fight to the end, the Confederate military authorities were willing to see the people derive what benefit they could from their cotton. They had almost impoverished the inhabitants by quartering troops on them, and took this method to reimburse them! especially as one or two of their leaders (Kirby Smith, for instance) had a personal  interest in saving this valuable commodity from destruction. The Confederates determined to destroy the cotton only when they thought they could no longer share in the benefits. That there was a tacit understanding between General Banks and the enemy was the general belief, and the evidence of General Dwight, his own chief-of-staff, corroborates this belief. It was an arrangement in which neither the Navy nor the three corps commanders had any part; and we must say that disastrous as was this expedition to the cotton interest, we rejoice at the Navy not having participated in arrangements which were considered discreditable to all concerned. If the Confederates could sell all their products as they pleased, and receive money or supplies in return, the war might have been greatly prolonged. The question as to the origin of the Red River expedition has been settled by General Grant, as before stated, but that regarding the object of the same is still shrouded in mystery. General Halleck, in his testimony before the “Committee on the conduct of the war,” Feb. 16, 1865, says:
The object of the expedition, as I understood it at the time, was to form a junction between the forces under General Steele and those under General Banks, so as to shorten the line of defence on the western side of the Mississippi River, and to establish a position within the State of Texas which should be permanently held, it being considered an important object, by the executive branch of the Government at that time, that a post should be held at all consequences within the State of Texas.General Halleck further remarked that the Government had never received any report from Banks in regard to the failure of the expedition. Halleck considered the Red River the best line to accomplish this object, although he acknowledges that the character of the navigation was known to be “precarious, at times good, at other times utterly impracticable.” This last happened to be the condition when Banks' expedition started, which is why the Admiral strongly objected to going up the river at that time. Any one who studies the map of Louisiana can estimate the value of General Halleck's judgment in favoring such a scheme. He wanted a point in Texas to hold permanently. With the aid of gun-boats 40,000 men could have been landed near Sabine Pass, and all that was worth anything in Texas would have been at the disposal of Federal forces. Sabine Lake was there to shelter any number of light-draft transports, with quick transportation and naval protection. Instead of this, two armies were started 500 miles apart, with no chance of communicating on the way, to march through vast swamps and woods, across numerous rivers and streams, and over very difficult roads. General Grant saw the folly of this scheme and disapproved the attempt; but, even although he had taken Vicksburg, he did not feel strong enough to oppose so powerful a politician as General Banks, or the plans formed in Washington by General Halleck, who called them the “views of the Administration.” General Banks himself seems originally to have favored an expedition to Sabine Pass, having some notion of the difficulties that would beset an expedition into Texas by any other route, and, indeed, to have expressed himself in opposition to General Halleck's “views.” A great fear seems to have possessed the minds of Halleck and Banks that, after the fall of Port Hudson and Vicksburg, New Orleans was in danger of capture from Texas, although a large portion of the country is intersected with bayous, across which it would take an army a long time to build bridges, where no supplies could be obtained, and where the enemy were as accessible to the Federals as the latter were to them. The greatest danger to be feared after the fall of Vicksburg was the army of General Joseph E. Johnston, 40,000 strong, which, still intact and in good discipline, moved towards the coast apparently in the direction of Mobile. Yet at that time, when it was necessary to be on his guard against such an energetic commander, Banks was intent on a march on Shreveport, although in a letter to Halleck he says:
The rivers and bayous have not been so low in this State for fifty years, and Admiral Porter informs me that the mouth of the Red River, and also the mouth of the Atchafalaya, are both hermetically sealed to his vessels by almost dry sand-bars, so that he cannot get any of the vessels into any of the streams. It is supposed that the first rise of the season will occur early in the next month. (!)Whatever may have been Banks' plans for an advance into Texas, he was evidently much hampered by the orders and suggestions he was constantly receiving from General Halleck, who seemed to change his opinion every time the wind shifted, a proceeding likely to confuse Banks and compel him to alter his plans as often as Halleck did. Why the Sabine Pass expedition failed does not appear; but most of Banks' expeditions failed, and there is little on record from General Banks to account for these failures. While Halleck in one letter professes to leave Banks at liberty to act as he pleases, in the next holds him fast by making “suggestions,” which from a superior officer are equivalent to positive commands. The only sensible dispatch from General Halleck is one dated January  4, 1864, in which, after urging the Red River project, he says:
So long as your plans are not positively decided upon, no definite instructions can be given to Sherman and Steele. The best thing, it would seem, to be done under the circumstances is for you to communicate with them and also with Admiral Porter in regard to some general co-operation all agree upon; what is the best plan of operations if the stage of water in the river and other circumstances should be favorable. If not, it must be modified or changed.As Captain Cuttle would say: “Here is an opinion as is an opinion,” and it would have been well if Banks had followed Halleck's advice; but, whatever the General's consultations were with others, he never deigned to consult with the Admiral, and paid no attention to his opinions. About the time that Halleck began to agitate his plan for the invasion of Texas, all the armies of the West had been placed under command of General Grant, and the latter had conceived the idea of sending Sherman through the Southern States east of the Mississippi, on what was called the “march to the sea.” On the 31st of January, 1864, Sherman wrote to Banks as follows:
The Mississippi, though low for the season, is free of ice and in good boating order, but I understand Red River is still low. I had a man in from Alexandria yesterday, who reported the Falls or Rapids impassable except for the smallest boats. My inland expedition is now working, and I will be off for Jackson, etc., to-morrow. The only fear I have is in the weather; all the other combinations are good. I want to keep up the delusion of an attack on Mobile and the Alabama River, and therefore would be obliged to you if you would keep up a foraging or other expedition in that direction. My orders from General Grant will not as yet justify me in embarking for Red River, though I am very anxious to operate in that direction. The moment I learned you were preparing for it, I sent a communication to Admiral Porter and dispatches to General Grant, at Chattanooga, asking him if he wanted me and Steele to co-operate with you against Shreveport, and I will have his answer in time, for you cannot do anything until Red River has twelve feet of water on the rapids at Alexandria. That will be from March till June; I have lived on Red River and know somewhat of the phases of that stream.Yet, notwithstanding Sherman's warning him that the rise will not take place before March or perhaps June, and the Admiral's repeated asseverations to that effect. Banks pushes on the expedition in April, when the river was falling four inches per day. The following is an extract of a letter from General Halleck to General Banks, dated February 2, 1864:
I enclose a copy of a communication from Admiral Porter which shows the condition of Red River and the Atchafalaya. From this it would appear that some delay would occur before any extensive operations can be carried on in that quarter.Suffice to say, all Admiral Porter's letters recommended that no attempt should be made via Red River until the water had actually risen to a height sufficient to insure the success of the expedition. He mentioned the different years in which there had been no rise, and the signs of the times made it probable there would not be sufficient water that season to undertake an expedition to Shreveport, if the co-operation of gun-boats and transports was required. In the voluminous correspondence between Halleck and Banks that took place in regard to the proposed expedition, each evidently wishes to place the responsibility on the other in case of failure to reach Shreveport. On March 5, 1864, Halleck wrote to Banks:
When General Sherman left Vicksburg he expected to return there by the 1st of March, to cooperate with you west of the Mississippi, but he was of opinion that the condition of the river would not be favorable until a later period. I think it most probable that before this reaches you he will have returned to Vicksburg, or some other point on the river. Whether he has received any recent orders in regard to his movements from General Grant, I am not advised, nor have I any information of General Steele's plans, further than that all his movements will be directed to facilitate your operations toward Shreveport.Halleck was always, it would seem, “harping on my daughter.” On March 12, 1864, General Steele sent a dispatch to Halleck, of which the following is an extract:
General Banks with 17,000 men and 10,000 of Sherman's will be in Alexandria on the 17th. * * * * Sherman insists upon my moving upon Shreveport to co-operate with the above-mentioned forces with all my effective forces. I have prepared to do so against my own judgment and that of the best-informed people here. The roads are mostly, if not all, impracticable; the country is destitute of provisions on the route we would have to take. I made a proposition to General Banks to threaten the enemy's flank and rear with all my cavalry, and to make a feint with infantry on the Washington road. I yielded to Sherman and Blunt as far as this plan is concerned. B. wants me to move by Munroe to Red River; Sherman wants me to go by Camden and Overton to Shreveport. The latter is impracticable, and the former plan would expose the line of the Arkansas and Missouri to cavalry raids. I can move with about 7,000 men. Our scouting parties frequently have skirmishes with detached parties all over the State, and if they should form in my rear in considerable force I should be obliged to fall back to save my depot. Please give me your opinion immediately, as I shall march to-morrow or next day.To which Halleck answered:
I advise that you proceed to co-operate in the movement of Banks and Sherman on Shreveport, unless General Grant orders differently, I send to him the substance of your telegram.The same day Halleck telegraphed General Grant as follows:
General Steele telegraphs that Banks with 17,000 men, and Sherman with 10,000, move from Alexandria on Shreveport, and wish him to co-operate. He says he can go with 7,000 effective men, but objects to the movement on account of bad roads and guerillas, and prefers to remain on the defensive  line of the Arkansas. I have replied that he should co-operate with Banks and Sherman, unless you direct otherwise. His objections on account of guerillas threatening his rear will apply equally to an advance at any time into the enemy's country.On the 15th of March, General Halleck, as chief-of-staff, telegraphed to General Grant as follows:
A dispatch just received from General Banks, dated March 6. He expects to effect a junction with Sherman's forces (Smith's Division) on Red River, on the 17th. He desires that positive orders be sent to Steele to move in conjunction with them for Red River, with all his available force. Sherman and Banks are of opinion that Steele can do much more than make a demonstration, as he last proposed. A telegram from you might decide him.After reading the above dispatches, we are forced to the conclusion that Generals Halleck and Banks are responsible for the Red River expedition, one of the wildest schemes, in a military point of view, ever proposed. The Navy went into the affair with the knowledge that failure was almost certain, yet did its best to insure success. Notwithstanding General Halleck was the author of the Red River expedition, General Banks deserves the severest censure for the manner in which he carried out the plan of campaign — if there was any plan. In Halleck's letter, while he urges the Red River as the only practicable route, he constantly reiterates the substance of one communication as follows:
While the Government is desirous that Red River and Shreveport should be taken possession of and held as the most important objective point of the operations of a campaign of troops about to take a position where they could command Texas, and establish a better line of defence for Arkansas and Missouri than now occupied by General Steele, yet the Administration does not desire in any manner to control your actions as to the time and manner of performing this service, and you will take counsel with Generals Sherman and Steele and Admiral Porter as to the best manner of carrying out the expedition.How far General Banks acted on these suggestions the reader can judge. Both Halleck and Banks were very desirous to escape the responsibility of the Red River failure. Halleck claims only to have made “suggestions,” but suggestions coming from a person who was virtually Commander-in-chief of the Army had the weight of orders. They were supposed to be the opinions of the President and the Secretary of War as well as of General Halleck. When the news of the failure of the expedition reached Washington, Banks was written to by way of censure, and informed that his movements regarding the Texas expedition were not approved, and that from the beginning, when the Sabine and Rio Grande expeditions were undertaken, no notice of Banks' movements were received at the War Department until they were actually undertaken. To offset this, we will quote from a letter of General Halleck to Banks, dated February 11, 1864:
If by this is meant that you are waiting for orders from Washington, there must be some misapprehension. The substance of my dispatches to you was communicated to the President and Secretary of War, and it was understood that while stating my own views in regard to operations, I should leave you free to adopt such lines and plans of campaign as you might after a full consideration of the subject deem best. Such I am confident is the purport of my dispatches, and it certainly was not intended that any of your movements should be delayed to await instructions from here.How much truth there is in this letter can be inferred by comparing it with the three telegrams of Halleck, one of them to Grant, in which Halleck seems determined to manage the whole affair. Banks, no doubt, considered these “suggestions” as instructions, which, had he disregarded, would have most probably resulted in his removal from command. Banks says:
In the instructions I received from the Government, it was left to my discretion whether I would join (?) in the expedition, but I was directed to communicate with General Sherman, General Steele, and Admiral Porter upon the subject. I expressed the satisfaction I should feel in co-operating with them in a movement deemed of so much importance by the Government, to which my own command was unequal, and my belief that with the forces designated it would be entirely successful. Having received from them similar assurances, both my discretion and my authority, so far as the organization of the expedition was concerned, were at an end.In all this controversy it will be seen that every one is disposed to ignore responsibility, but particularly Halleck. General Sherman and the Admiral, after the capture of Vicksburg, had discussed this plan of taking Shreveport by a sudden movement; but they did not intend to leave anything to chance, or to undertake the expedition without plenty of water in the river and a prospect of its continuance in the future. They would not have ventured in case of a temporary rise — which could always be told by the rapidity with which the water subsided — for if the rise was owing to the head waters of Red River booming, and all the tributaries throwing in their supply at the same time, they could feel certain of a permanently full river. When full, Red River is easily navigable, and any expedition started by Sherman and Admiral Porter would have been as successful as the Arkansas Post expedition. Sherman was willing to listen to the Admiral, and the latter always gave that attention to Sherman's opinion which was due to his experience. It will strike any one at all conversant with military matters how absurdly the war at this time was conducted from Washington. Here was Grant, just successful in one of the most difficult sieges of modern times, with a great prestige, and supposed  to command all the troops in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio, yet it does not appear that his opinion in regard to the Red River expedition was ever asked. Grant had about that time gone to Chattanooga on a tour of inspection, and thought the Red River expedition of so little importance that he directed General Banks to send back A. J. Smith's command to Sherman after the 5th of May. General Grant was opposed to making any great effort to carry on the war west of the Mississippi, where it would take a large army and a large portion of the Navy even to hold the central portion of Louisiana, which forces would soon be wanted on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. All that was required was for Banks to hold New Orleans against General J. E. Johnston, who might pounce upon it if left unprotected. Banks had not troops enough in his command to authorize the withdrawal of a large force from New Orleans. All he could expect to do was to hold several points on the west bank of the Mississippi, forage in West Louisiana, and prevent supplies from crossing the Mississippi from Texas, and occasionally threatening Mobile, until such time as Grant should direct him to march upon the latter city and capture it, which would have been when Sherman began his march to the sea. This would have left no enemies in Sherman's rear. He would have had the railroads open behind him, including the important one from Mobile to Montgomery, which, with a Union Army at Mobile, would have insured the pacification of Alabama and Mississippi, and would have prevented any attempt on the part of the Confederates to pursue Sherman's rear; and in case of necessity the Federals could have thrown a large part of Bank's Army by rail upon Montgomery and Atlanta, if Sherman had got into difficulty, and there would have been a line of communication open to Sherman from the time he started until he reached Savannah. General Banks made a report to Mr. Wade, President of the Senate, of his operations from the time he took command at New Orleans until his return from the Red River expedition. The report is interesting, and shows that a great deal of work was projected and a great deal performed. We know nothing of General Banks' performances prior to the advance on Alexandria; but, judging from his statements in regard to matters that came under our cognizance, we should pronounce the report partial. No report was made public by the War Department until the General appeared before the Committee on the Conduct of the War. After the war he makes the report, to which we have alluded, to go before the country. His military service was over, and having to explain to his constituents the reasons for his failure, he did not hesitate to misstate the facts in order to throw the blame on others. There is so much misrepresentation in regard to the events in which the Navy took part, as narrated by General Banks, that one is naturally disposed to doubt the truth of the whole report. Banks blames General Franklin for not reaching Alexandria sooner, but the latter shows that he was not to blame, as he only received the order to advance from the town of Franklin on the 12th of March. Banks informed General Franklin that he had promised to meet the Admiral in Alexandria on the 17th of March, and as the latter place is 175 miles from the town of Franklin, of course it was impossible to fulfill this promise. Besides, on the 10th of March only 3,000 of the troops which were to form that arm of the expedition were on the ground--“the remainder had just arrived from Texas and were at Berwick Bay without transportation, and the cavalry had not arrived from New Orleans.” Franklin started on the 13th, and his advance-guard reached Alexandria on the 25th, the rear-guard and pontoon train on the 26th and 27th. Thus Franklin marched at the rate of sixteen miles a day over bad roads, having to build many bridges across streams; while Banks, who had agreed to be at Alexandria on the 17th, only arrived on the 25th in a fast steamer — yet General Banks undertakes to say that Franklin received orders to march on the 7th, and delayed him that much. He also said the gunboats delayed him at Alexandria, whereas the Louisville, Carondelet, Pittsburgh, Mound City, Osage, and Neosho, all heavy iron-clads, together with the Lexington, Cricket, Gazelle, Covington, Signal, and Juliet, light-drafts, were all above the Falls, ready to move at a moment's notice; while the commanding officers of the Choctaw, Ozark, Ouichita and Eastport were informed that they might pass above the Falls if they could; and, if they did get over, to assemble at Grand Ecore and remain there to protect that place. In one part of Banks' report he attempts to make capital out of a very small matter. After Admiral Farragut attempted to pass the batteries at Port Hudson, which he only succeeded in doing with two vessels, General Banks opened communication with him through the Atchafalaya by means of the gun-boats Ansonia and Estrella. Banks says in his report:
On the 5th of May our headquarters at Opelousas was broken up and the troops moved for  Alexandria, a distance of from 90 to 100 miles, making this march in three days, four hours. Moving rapidly to the rear of Fort de Russy, a strong work on Red River, we compelled the immediate evacuation of that post by the enemy, and enabled the fleet of gun-boats under Admiral Porter to pass up to Alexandria without firing a gun. The Army reached Alexandria the 9th of May (1863), in the evening, the Navy having reached there the morning of the same day. The enemy continued his retreat in the direction of Shreveport.The facts of the case are as follows, unimportant as they may be: After landing General Grant's troops fifteen miles below Grand Gulf, taking possession of that place and removing all the guns, the Admiral left at noon, May 3, 1863, and arrived that evening at the mouth of the Red River, and communicated with Admiral Farragut. He had with him the gun-boats Benton, Lafayette, Pittsburg, Price, ram Switzerland, and tug Ivy. Admiral Farragut informed Porter that, hearing that General Banks proposed marching on Alexandria, he had sent the Ansonia and Estrella, under Lieutenant-Commander A. P. Cooke, up Red River, to try and communicate with the General, but he feared, as they were light vessels, they might fail. On this, Admiral Porter offered to go up himself with the force he had, and started accordingly on the 4th with the above-named vessels, arriving at Fort De Russy on the 5th. On the way up he met the two gun-boats returning, their commanding officer (Cooke) informing Admiral Porter that his wheel had been disabled by a shell from Fort De Russy; the other vessel was struck, “but there was no one hurt.” As the vessels were light, Lieutenant-Commander Cooke could do nothing against the enemy. The Admiral directed him to return with him, as he should need his vessels, and shortly after took possession of Fort De Russy. It was a strong work, with three casemated guns and a flanking battery nearly at right angles, calculated to mount seven more guns. Now, be it remembered, the Navy took possession of Fort De Russy--no very important event — on the morning of May 5, 1863, while General Banks only started on that day from Opelousas, distant, he says, from Alexandria, one hundred miles; yet he claims to have caused the evacuation of the post, “enabling the Navy to pass up to Alexandria without firing a gun.” (!) How he could get in the rear of De Russy and cause its evacuation, when he had not started from Opelousas until late on the day it was captured by the Navy, is a mystery, and military men should make a note of it for future reference. There was no opposition in getting to Alexandria, for there were then no troops in that region, only a few officers and a gang of negroes working at Fort De Russy. The people all along the river were glad to see the Union flag, and when the Navy reached Alexandria it was as quiet as a country village in Massachusetts. General Banks claims in his report that, after the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, his whole aim was the capture of Mobile, which was of more importance to the Union than the capture of a dozen Shreveports. He claims to have been “opposed to the expedition up Red River, which had been explored thoroughly in the spring campaign of 1863, and that he was satisfied it was impracticable, if not impossible, for the purpose entertained by the Government.” Yet so intent was General Banks on going that route that he appealed to Admiral Porter in such a manner that the latter could not decline to accompany him, and on more than one occasion he was referred to the Admiral's objections by General Halleck, who, although wishing to avoid responsibility and to throw the blame on Banks in case of failure, was as eager for this raid as any one. If Banks simply wanted to hold a strong point in Texas, he had the opportunity at Sabine Pass, which was the nearest point to his base of operations, and into which place he could from time to time have thrown as many troops as he pleased, and kept them under protection of the naval forces. Banks fitted out an expedition to that place, but it was a failure. In reviewing General Banks' report, it is our purpose to give him the benefit of his own words, which, although specious enough, are sufficient, if carefully studied, to condemn him out of his own mouth. He says:
In order that the inherent difficulties attending the proposed combined movement — which had been thoroughly tested in the campaign of 1863 and 1864, and which I had represented with as much earnestness as seemed to be proper — might be presented in a manner most likely to gain attention, I directed Major D. C. Houston, chief engineer of the department — who possessed the highest claims to favorable consideration from professional qualifications and experience, and his acquaintance with the route — to prepare a memorial upon operations on Red River, which had been long under consideration. This was transmitted to the headquarters of the army, and appeared to have received the attention and approval of the general-in-chief. It stated with precision the obstacles to be encountered, and the measures necessary to accomplish the object in view. No change would be required in this statement if it had been written in review rather than in anticipation of the campaign. It recommended as a condition indispensable to success: 1st, such complete preliminary organization as would avoid the least delay in our movements after the campaign had opened; 2d, that a line of supply be established from the Mississippi independent of water-courses; 3d, the concentration of the forces west of the Mississippi, and such other force as should be assigned to this duty from General Sherman's command, in such a manner as to expel the  enemy from northern Louisiana and Arkansas; 4th, such preparation and concert of action among the different corps employed as to prevent the enemy, by keeping him constantly engaged, from operating against our positions or forces elsewhere; and, 5th, that the entire force should be placed under the command of a single General. Preparations for a long campaign were advised, and the month of May indicated as the point of time when the occupation of Shreveport might be anticipated. Not one of these suggestions, so necessary in conquering the inherent difficulties of the expedition, was carried into execution, nor was it in my power to establish them. The troops under command of General Steele were acting independently of my command, under orders not communicated to me, and at such distance that it was impossible to ascertain his movements, or to inform him of my own, so that we might co-operate with or support each other. The detachment of troops from the command of Major-General Sherman, though operating upon the same line with my own, were under special orders, having ulterior objects in view, and afforded an earnest but only a partial co-operation in the expedition. The distance which separated the different commands, the impossibility of establishing necessary communications between them, the absence of a general authority to command them, the time that was required for the transmission of orders from Washington, and the necessity of immediate action on account of the condition of the rivers and operations contemplated for the armies elsewhere, gave rise to embarrassments in organization of forces and in the execution of orders which could not be overcome. In the instructions I received from the Government it was left to my discretion whether or not I would join in this expedition, but I was directed to communicate with General Sherman and General Steele and Admiral Porter upon the subject. I expressed the satisfaction I should find in co-operating with them in a movement deemed of so much importance by the Government, to which my own command was unequal, and my belief that with the forces designated it would be entirely successful. Having received from them similar assurances, both my discretion and my authority, so far as the organization of the expedition was concerned, were at an end. The disposition of the enemy's forces at that time, according to the best information that could be obtained, was as follows: Magruder had about 20,000 men of all arms, of which 15,000 were serviceable. The main body covered Galveston and Houston from an anticipated movement from Matagorda peninsula, still held by our troops; Walker's division, numbering 7,000 men, were upon the Atchafalaya and Red Rivers, from Opelousas to Fort De Russy; Mouton's division, between the Black and Washita rivers, from Red River to Monroe, numbering 6,000; while Price, with two heavy divisions of infantry, estimated at 5,000, and a large cavalry force, estimated at from 7,000 to 10,000, held the country from Monroe to Camden and Arkadelphia, confronting Steele. Magruder could spare 10,000 of his force to resist an attack from the east, leaving his fortifications well garrisoned on the coast, while Price could furnish at least an additional 5,000 from the north, making a formidable army of from 25,000 to 30,000 men, equal to any forces that could be brought against them, even with the most perfect unity and co-operation of commands. This estimate of the strength of the enemy was given in my dispatch of February 2, but was thought, upon information received by the Government, to be exaggerated. The defences of the enemy consisted of a series of works covering the approaches to Galveston and Houston from the south, the defences of Galveston Bay, Sabine Pass, and Sabine River; Fort De Russy, a formidable work, located three miles from Marksville, for the defence of the Red River, and extensive and formidable works at Trinity, the junction of the Tensas and Washita at Camden, commanding approaches from the north. To meet these forces of the enemy it was proposed to concentrate, in some general plan of operations, 15,000 of the troops under command of General Steele, a detachment of 10,000 from the command of General Sherman, and a force of from 15,000 to 17,000 men from the army of the Gulf, making an army of 40,000 to 42,000 men of all arms, with such gun-boats as the Navy Department should order. Orders were given to my command at once to suspend operations at Galveston, and vigorous preparations were made for the new campaign. Having been charged by the President with duties not immediately connected with military operations, but which were deemed important and required my personal attention at New Orleans, the organization of the troops of my command assigned to the expedition was intrusted to Major-General W. B. Franklin. The main body of his command, consisting of the 19th corps--except Grover's division at Madisonville, which was to join him — and one division of the 13th corps, under General Ransom, were at this time on Berwick's Bay, between Berwick City and Franklin, on the Bayou Teche, directly on the line of march for Alexandria and Shreveport. Small garrisons were left at Brownsville and Matagorda Bay, in Texas--positions which, under instructions from the President and subsequently from Lieutenant-General Grant, were not to be abandoned — at New Orleans and at Port Hudson, which was threatened by a vigorous and active enemy. Smaller garrisons at Baton Rouge and Donaldson ville on the river, and at Pensacola and Key West on the coast, constituted the balance of forces under my command, It had been arranged that the troops concentrated at Franklin should move for the Red River on the 7th of March, to meet the forces of General Sherman at Alexandria on the 17th. But, for causes stated by General Franklin, their march was delayed until the 13th, at which time the advance, under General A. L Lee, left Franklin, the whole column following soon after and arriving at Alexandria, the cavalry on the 19th, and the infantry on the 25th. On the 13th of March, 1864, one division of the 16th corps, under Brigadier-General Mower, and one division of the 17th corps, under Brigadier-General T. Kilby Smith--the whole under command of Brigadier-General A. J. Smith--landed at Simmsport, on the Atchafalaya, and proceeded at once towards Fort De Russy, carrying it by assault at 4:30 P. M. on the afternoon of the 14th. Two hundred and sixty prisoners and ten heavy guns were captured. Our loss was slight. The troops and transports under General A. J. Smith, and the marine brigade under General Ellet, with the gunboats, moved to Alexandria, which was occupied without opposition on the 16th of the same month. General Lee, of my command, arrived at Alexandria on the morning of the 19th. The enemy, in the meantime, continued his retreat in the direction of Shreveport. Officers of my staff were at Alexandria on the 19th, and I made my headquarters there on the 24th, the forces under General Franklin arriving on the 25th and 26th of March; but as the stage of the water in Red River was too low to admit the passage of the gun-boats or transports over the Falls, the troops encamped near Alexandria, General Smith and his command moving forward 21 miles to Bayou Rapides, above Alexandria. There was but six feet of water in the channel, while seven and a-half were necessary for the second class and ten feet for the first-class gunboats. The river is narrow, the channel tortuous, changing with every rise, making its navigation  more difficult and dangerous, probably, than any of the western rivers, while pilots for the transports were reluctant to enter Government service for this campaign. The first gun-boat was unable to cross the rapids until the 26th; others crossed on the 28th, with some transports, and others still on the 2d and 3d of April; the passage having been made with difficulty and danger, occupying several days. Several gun-boats and transports, being then unable to ascend the river, remained at Alexandria or returned to the Mississippi. While at Alexandria, Major-General McPherson, commanding at Vicksburg, called for the immediate return of the marine brigade — a part of General Smith's command — to protect the Mississippi, for which service it had been specially organized. The transports of this brigade were unable to pass above Alexandria. The hospital boat Woodford had been wrecked on the rapids in attempting the passage. The troops were suffering from small-pox, which pervaded all the transports, and they were reported in condition of partial mutiny. It was not supposed at that time that a depot or garrison at Alexandria would be required; and this command, being without available land or water transportation, was permitted to return to the Mississippi, in compliance with the demands of General McPherson; this reduced the strength of the advancing column about 3.000 men. The condition of the river and the inability of the transports to pass the Falls made it necessary to establish a depot of supplies at Alexandria, and a line of wagon transportation from the steamers below to those above the Falls. This was a departure from the plan of the campaign, which did not contemplate a post or depot at any point on Red River, and involved the necessity of leaving a division at Alexandria for the purpose of protecting the depot, transports and supplies. Brigadier-General C. Grover was placed in command of the post, and his division left for its defence. This reduced the force of the advancing column about 3,000 men. While at Alexandria, on the 21st instant, a movement was organized against the enemy posted at Henderson's Hill, 25 miles in advance. The expedition consisted of three brigades of General A. J. Smith's command, and a brigade of cavalry of the 19th corps, under command of Colonel Lucas, of the 16th Indiana volunteers--the whole under the command of Brigadier-General Mower, of the 16th corps. The enemy was surprised, losing 250 prisoners, 200 horses and four guns, with their caissons. Colonel H. B. Sargent of my staff was severely wounded in this action, and disabled from service during this campaign. This affair reflected the highest credit upon the officers and men engaged.General Banks' “report” as here quoted, though it sounds plausible enough, will not bear criticism. He implies that a delay of sixteen days was caused by the inability of the fleet to ascend the rapids (Falls) at Alexandria It should be remembered that Banks himself did not arrive in Alexandria until the 25th. and the rear-guard of his army on the 26th, after a fatiguing march. At least two days were required to reorganize the different corps after arrival. Banks says the first gun-boat could only pass the Rapids on the 28th,whereas on that day the heaviest of the vessels, the Eastport, ascended the Falls, and seven or eight others — all that were needed — had been above the Falls for some days waiting for the Army to move. Finally, the gun-boats pushed ahead, and on the 30th the Eastport, which General Banks says delayed the Army, took possession of Grand Ecore, which place had been evacuated by the enemy. Banks' army did not reach Grand Ecore until the 1st, 2d, and 3d of April. How, then, can General Banks pretend to blame the Navy for the detention? It was only intended to take eight vessels to Shreveport, viz.: the Lexington, Osage, Gazelle, Cricket, Fort Hindman, Juliet, Ouichita and Neosho. These vessels mounted 50 guns, some of them heavy ones. The other vessels that passed the Falls were necessary to guard Grand Ecore, and a sufficient force was left to protect Alexandria. If the Navy delayed the Army, how is it the gun-boats arrived so much ahead of the latter at Grand Ecore? In fact, at any time previous to the 29th or 30th of March, a medium-draft gun-boat and any transport had no difficulty in passing above Alexandria. A hospital boat, belonging to the Marine Brigade, was lost at the Falls, but this was due to the stupidity of her pilot. There was none of the “danger” that Banks mentions, or anything more than the ordinary accidents likely to occur among so many vessels. No delay was caused by stopping at Alexandria to establish a depot of supplies. The depot was established before Banks arrived, and there was no departure from the plan of campaign in making such arrangement. It was a very necessary arrangement, for the campaign could not have been conducted without using Alexandria as a base of supplies. The number, etc., of the enemy's forces is greatly overstated by General Banks. They did not, all told, number more than 20,000 men, among them were 6,000 or 7,000 raw troops from Texas, commanded by General Green. These were badly cut up by the gun-boats at Pleasant Hill Landing. Another mistake of Banks is to be found in the recapitulation of his report. He says eight days may be set down to General Franklin for his tardy movements, and the rest of the time to delay in getting the fleet over the Falls. The General reflects on the Admiral for undertaking to get twenty ironclads of heavy draft over the Falls and up the river on a falling water. There were but six iron-clads in the fleet, and of these the Eastport and Ozark were the only two from which trouble might have been anticipated in passing above the Falls. However, the Ozark never delayed the fleet a moment going or coming, and the others easily got above the Falls. The risk run was the chance of the river falling, for which General Banks is not held responsible. The object of the Admiral was to do everything in his power to make the expedition a success; and supposing that Banks intended to  obey his instructions and hold the country, and not thinking that he would retreat on meeting resistance from an inferior force, his intention was to stay up Red River with as large a naval force as he could spare from the Mississippi, until his presence was no longer necessary. Suppose, as Banks asserts, the fleet did not reach Springfield Landing until “two full days” after the battle of Sabine Cross Roads, that point was reached at the time appointed to meet the General and his army. The Navy's arrival any sooner would not have benefitted him in the least, and he could not, under any circumstances, have reached there before the fleet. The fleet could have reached there sooner, but was delayed by some heavy army transports which were continually getting aground. These heavy vessels were, it is said, sent up by Banks' orders to get down cotton. Any one who knows General Banks will smile at the following:
The failure of the fleet to move up the river with ordinary expedition, together with the fact that the gun-boats were unable to pass Grand Ecore until the 7th, justified the belief that its advance had been prevented by the low stage of water, and governed the army exclusively in its retrograde movement to Grand Ecore. (!!)Banks might also have added-impelled in a great measure by the Confederates under General Taylor, who were pressing in his rear. It is astonishing how visionary some of the generals become after a war is over, and they want to delude the people into giving them seats in Congress. Banks once made a speech to his constituents in which he said: “Had the gun-boats not failed to come to our assistance, we would have met with no reverse” !! On the occasion referred to, there were thirty miles of land between the vessels and the army. The last chapter in Banks' romance we leave to be criticised by the many thousands who keenly felt the disgrace inflicted on them and upon the country by a most inexperienced General. The Admiral's reports published and on file will show that he gave full credit to the Army for all the assistance the fleet received to get them out of a difficulty into which they fell, owing to Banks' self-assurance. We feel satisfied that no charge of inefficiency can ever be maintained against the Navy, or that through it the lives of those under Banks' command were sacrificed. It is bad enough for a man to bring disasters upon the country, but when he tries to throw the blame of defeat upon others, and criticises their earnest endeavors to carry out his impracticable plans, he must not expect to be gently dealt with by those whom he fain would injure. We do not pretend to have treated General Banks leniently in our account of his performances, including his “masterly retreat” before an inferior force. It was the Admiral's duty to make the report he did to the Secretary of the Navy, but he stated the case in much milder terms, as regarded General Banks, than did the army officers who served under him, in their evidence before the Committee on the Conduct of the War. We insert one letter from General Kilby Smith which corroborates everything that has been said in regard to Banks leaving the Eastport at the mercy of the enemy:
General Banks' shortcomings were felt in the Army as well as in the Navy, as will appear by the following extract from a report by Captain Wm. S. Burns, Acting-Assistant Adjutant-General on the staff of General A. J. Smith:
Our victory being so complete, General Banks had ordered the retreating train to be halted, turned about, and everything prepared for an early advance next morning, and about midnight I fell asleep amidst the groans of the wounded; but at two o'clock in the morning was awakened to hear that we were ordered to retreat. Imagine our feelings! General Smith, upon receipt of the order, had gone to General Banks and urged an advance; but when he found the order to retreat was imperative, he begged the privilege of remaining on the field to bury the dead and take care of the wounded; but even this was not allowed. Disgraceful! Criminal! Inhuman! At this late day, when time has mitigated the intensity of the keen feeling then experienced by us who fled, my notes and letters seem overdrawn, and I hesitate to quote literally, but they are a true history, not only of my own personal sense of bitter humiliation — then in my mind — but are a true index of the inner consciousness of nine-tenths of the army; and, although “military discipline” kept it under, yet so the soldiers thought, talked, and some of them wrote; and even now, when fifteen years have passed away, it is difficult to review these events and write with any degree of calmness or patience of our retreat. * * * * * * *  This was a defeat, but a defeat only to our foe. The stake fought for by him was the trans-Mississippi Empire; by our commanding general, the safe retreat of his army. We won both, abandoned the former to the enemy after he had retreated, and gave to a brilliant victory all the moral results of a defeat. Finally, the Thirty-second Iowa blushes to place upon its banner the name of a field where its dead and wounded were cruelly abandoned to an enemy, who, many hours afterwards, humbly asked leave to care for his own.When General Banks questions the veracity of officers, he should see what is said of his own in the following extract from the same officer:
Having whipped our enemy and driven him miles from the battle-field, then to be ordered to run! We could see no reason for it then and cannot yet, although it may be true, as General Banks says in his official report: “The occupation of Shreveport could not have been maintained.” But it is not the object of this article to enter into the merits or otherwise of General Banks' decision to retreat; for, of course, there are two sides to every question; but I do censure him for leaving the dead unburied and the wounded (i. e., the greater part of them) to fall into the hands of the enemy. If he had to retreat, why such haste? Why not wait at least one day and care for the dead and dying? General Banks is hardly fair toward General Smith in his official report. He says: “General Smith never declined co-operation with me, nor did he receive orders from me.” It may seem “to the prejudice of order and military discipline,” for me, as a subordinate, to question the veracity of a commanding general, but when he says, “nor did he receive orders from me,” I do call his veracity into question. As I have shown, Colonel Shaw, of General Smith's command, reported to General Emory for duty at Pleasant Hill. As no one stood between Generals Banks and Smith--that is, with any authority to command General Smith--who but General Banks could have ordered this? And in Colonel Shaw's official report, he says: “I was ordered to report with my brigade to General Banks. By him I was ordered to proceed to the front and report to General Emory,” etc. I could give many other instances where General Smith did receive orders from General Banks. From the moment he reported to him at Alexandria, he was under his orders and received them and obeyed them every day while under his command. To even imagine any other state of affairs would be ridiculous and not tenable. When I reach the cotton chapter of the expedition, I will give one instance where he questioned one of Banks' orders; but that the circumstances fully justified him in this, will be, I think, the verdict of all honest men.It is hardly fair to quote what the enemy said against General Banks--still it is interesting to know what the Confederates thought
What a sad picture was now to be seen, where all was beauty and luxury when we first saw it in March! Governor Moore was with his friends further south, and while fighting over his plantation one day, his wife was advised to leave, and as she left her house the tears came to her eyes as she said: “Good-bye, once happy home!” Who made it an unhappy one? We all concluded that it was her husband, as the natural result of treason. Living far in the interior of “ Dixie,” as he did he undoubtedly thought war's desolation would never reach his happy home. Three years had passed away, and he was an exile — his family leaving their home; the flag he insulted and defied waving over the ruins of his “once happy home.” Was it not a just retribution? We were now entirely cut off from the outside world, the blockade of the river being most effectual. A large mail for us was captured and destroyed on one of the transports. General Banks would not let us go out in force and give the enemy battle, having issued positive orders not to bring on a general engagement, which order caused a good deal of animated (but private) discussion. It is appropriate at this point to quote again from the letter of the Southern soldier already quoted from: “The enemy showed less enterprise than I have ever known them to evince. Banks is clearly no commander. Once or twice while he was at Alexandria, the posture of our forces was such that by a sure and comparatively safe movement of ten thousand men he might have insured, beyond peradventure, the capture of Polignac's division. He must have been in the main aware of the position and strength of our forces.”Here is another extract from Captain Burns:
The above view is a fair reflection of our own. We, too, felt that General Banks had “given up all desire to acquit himself with any credit,” and showed an unaccountable lack of enterprise. Of course, we knew nothing as to the certain result above predicted, of the “sure and comparatively safe movement of ten thousand men.” But having about, that number, General Smith, having his hands tied by the order not to bring on a general engagement, and being obliged in conformity with it (another instance of receipt of orders from General Banks) to sit down quietly on Governor Moore's plantation and simply sweep away the enemy when too closely reconnoitering our position, might be excused for giving vent to his feelings in unmistakable language, at such (to him a West Pointer) a new phase of military life. I have stated that when I reached Alexandria I would show that it was General Banks, not General Smith, who meditated the abandonment of the fleet. Dr. Staples (who, owing to the wound of Dr. Derby, already spoken of, was now acting-medical director on General Smith's staff) writes me as follows: “One day, when the wing-dams were about half completed, General Smith asked me to accompany him to General Emory's quarters. They were soon engaged in earnest conversation, and I heard Emory say there was a bad outlook; that General Banks had just informed him that Colonel Bailey thought it would take a week longer to get the fleet over the Falls, and Banks was very uneasy and seriously contemplated abandoning the fleet to its fate and marching away. General Smith replied, with some Anglo-Saxon more forcible than polite, that he wouldn't leave Admiral Porter until that locality, from which we all hope to escape, had frozen over. We went from General Emory's to Admiral Porter's boat, and General Smith told the Admiral what he had just heard, and assured him that orders, or no orders, his command should not leave the fleet until they saw it safe through to the Mississippi River. Admiral Porter replied that he was not surprised to hear such news, as he had been anticipating as much. He expressed much gratitude for General Smith's proffers of aid, and declared that if the expedition had been under his command it would not have failed.”We do not think we have said as much as as that against General Banks. When one remembers Banks' evidence before the “Committee on the conduct of the war,” and compares it with the following statement of Captain Burns, he might suspect  Banks of the want of ingenuousness which he imputes to others:
I have now come to a subject which requires delicate handling; but even an historical sketch of the Red River campaign cannot well be written without a reference to it. As the expedition had been a decided failure in a military point of view, so it was a great success as a cotton speculation. It was difficult for us to believe that which our eyes saw, but it was the expressed and indignant belief of many in the army that something was wrong in the manipulation of cotton now being enacted before our eyes. We all saw an immense amount of bagging and roping upon the steamer “Black Hawk ” (General Banks' headquarters boat) when it arrived at Alexandria, and it was then said it was for cotton. And during our occupancy of Alexandria on our retreat, I myself saw steamers loaded with cotton and sent down the river under the protection of the hospital flag, and Lieutenant Pannes (ordnance officer on General Smith's staff) sends me the following extract from his diary:We do not care to criticise General Banks further, otherwise we might extend these extracts; so we will leave his case to the judgment of history. At one time we could not help feeling sorry for General Banks. for the humiliating position in which he was placed was not altogether his fault. Had he not attempted to draw attention from himself by throwing blame on the Navy, we should doubtless have had a better opinion of him. Most generals must expect reverses. Frederick the Great ran away at his first battle, and was not always successful in after years, although one of the greatest soldiers of modern times, and in his most noted defeat he took all the blame on his own shoulders. A general will, in fact, gain more credit by assuming the responsibility of defeat than by attempting to shirk it. With all General Banks' faults, he had some striking good qualities. He was a gentleman in his manners, and the Admiral never had to complain of a want of courtesy towards his officers or himself except once. He looked well in his uniform, and kept himself always scrupulously neat, though rather theatrical in his style of gloves and boots. With a better surrounding he would have had more success as a general. He had not much force of character, and lacked nerve in time of danger. As Governor of Massachusetts and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, no one has ever questioned his ability; yet, strange to say, Banks always preferred to be considered a soldier rather than a statesman. He never had sufficient military force to properly occupy the country under his immediate command, much less to make expeditions into hostile regions. The expedition up Red River toward Shreveport was the end of his military career. As Governor of Louisiana, Banks was not equal to Butler, who, with less savoir faire, had more decision of character and made a better record. In taking leave of General Banks and Red River, we will give him the benefit of the last word, and append to this narrative that portion of his report where he appears in melodramatic attitude towards the Admiral and the Navy--“That Navy which he and the Army preserved, while it did nothing to help itself!” While we acknowledge that General Banks and his army did all in their power to assist the fleet over the Falls, we do not admit that they preserved it. The Navy had one hundred miles of river above the Falls, with water deep enough to navigate, and, if Banks had left, they could have maintained themselves there, running up and down, despite all the forces in that part of Louisiana. There were four months provisions on hand, and in less than that time the desired rise of water came. General Banks is a clever writer, but any one who reads his report will detect that coloring of which we have on several occasions complained. The following is the last specimen that will be quoted, and with this ends the account of the Red River expedition. It is an extract from General Banks' report: April 29, 1864.--Cotton is being loaded on the boats by General Banks' order. Even the hospital boat Superior is used for that purpose; went out with Captain Burns to convince myself of that fact. May 1.--The three cotton boats returned, having been fired into.In a letter written by Colonel Shaw, who was at this time with his brigade at Governor Moore's plantation, he says:The ostensible purpose of occupying this position was the securing of forage, but as scarcely any was procured and several thousand bushels of corn were carelessly burned, it was thought a somewhat suspicious circumstance that a large ginning establishment, which was covered by our lines, was turning out some fifteen or twenty bales of cotton per day. But whether well founded or not, the impression was well-nigh universal that army movements were controlled to a considerable extent by the cotton interest. Such a state of affairs was most demoralizing and disheartening.From our first entrance into the Red River country we had been daily hearing reports which seemed too preposterous for belief; reports that an understanding existed between somebody and somebody else that there was to be no fighting on this campaign, but that the Southern Army was to fall back gradually as our army advanced and gathered up the cotton, for which, in some way not explained, the Southerners were to be paid. Also that Generals A. J. Smith and Dick Taylor, not having been informed of this secret, and both being fightingmen, had entered the campaign to fight when it became necessary, and General Smith s capture of Fort De Russy, and Dick Taylor's forcing the fight at Sabine Cross Roads, had upset the calculations of the different somebodies. This report of a secret understanding was reiterated day after day until it was believed by many to be true; but many more of us were incredulous until we witnessed this strange shipment of cotton under the hospital flag, which was either a gross deception under the sacredness of a hospital flag or the carrying out of a bargain.
The first difficulty encountered was in the navigation of the river. Sixteen days delay caused by the inability of the fleet to pass the Rapids at Alexandria, and three days delay at Grand Ecore in waiting the rise of the river, enabled the enemy to concentrate his forces, and rendered impossible that celerity of movement by the Army which the success of the expedition demanded. Eight days of the delay at Alexandria would have been attributable to the tardy organization and movements of Franklin's command; but the fleet was unable to pass the Falls until eight days after his arrival at Alexandria. This delay was doubtless owing to the impracticable navigation of the river; but it is not improper to say that the forecast and diligence which is enforced upon all men in the daily affairs of life would have forbidden an attempt to force a fleet of so much importance to the free navigation of the Mississippi to a point from which it could never hope to escape, except upon the theory that the river ought to or might rise. The movement of the Navy, in a dispatch of Rear-Admiral D. D. Porter, to which the Secretary of the Navy has given official publication and sanction, is attributed to the “request” of General Banks, who deemed the co-operation of the gun-boats so essential to success, that he (Porter) had to run some risks and make unusual exertions to get them over the Falls. This implies that the responsibility of his action rests upon the Army; but it is not consistent with the facts. The co-operation of the Navy was an indispensable condition and basis of the expedition. Major-General Halleck informed me, January 11, that he had been assured by the Navy Department that Admiral Porter would be prepared to co-operate with the Army in its movements; and the Admiral himself informed me, February 26, that he was “prepared to ascend Red River with a large fleet of gun-boats,” and to co-operate with the Army at any time when the water was high enough. The fleet was as necessary to the campaign as the Army. Had it been left to my discretion, I should have reluctantly undertaken, in a campaign requiring but eight or ten light-draft gun-boats, to force twenty heavy iron-clads 490 miles up a river proverbially as treacherous as the rebels who defended it, and which had given notice of its character by steadily falling when, as the Admiral reports, all other rivers were booming. There is a better reason for the disregard of the palpable difficulties of navigation than the over-zealous counsel of army officers in nautical affairs. In a subsequent dispatch Admiral Porter says, that “all my vessels navigated the river to Grand Ecore with ease, and with some of them I reached Springfield Landing, the place designated for the gun-boats to meet the Army. My part was successfully accomplished; the failure of the Army to proceed, and the retreat to Grand Ecore, left me almost at the mercy of the enemy.” The records of the campaign do not at all support the reckless and fiery ardor of this statement. The fleet did not reach the “place appointed” until two full days after the first decisive battle with the enemy. The Admiral occupied four days in moving one hundred and four miles on what he calls a “rising river,” with “good water,” to the place appointed. General T. Kilby Smith states that the fleet made twenty miles on the 7th,fifty-seven miles on the 8th, eighteen miles on the 9th, and nine miles on the 10th of April--total, one hundred and four miles. The failure of the fleet to move up the river with ordinary expedition, together with the fact that the gun-boats were unable to pass Grand Ecore until the 7th, justified the belief that its advance had been prevented by the low stage of water, and governed the Army exclusively in its retrograde movement to Grand Ecore, as it did in every important operation of the campaign. The Admiral's dispatch does not mention the fact that, in addition to the “mercy” of the enemy, he had the support of General T. Kilby Smith's division of 2,500 men, whose most gallant and honorable part in the preservation of the fleet of gun-boats and transports is not referred to, in what the Admiral calls “this curious affair between [the enemy's] infantry and gun-boats.” In view of the published dispatches of Admiral Porter, it is proper for me to say, that every position of difficulty in which the Army was placed in this campaign was the immediate and direct consequence of delay in the operations of the Navy. This may have been inevitable and entirely justifiable from the condition of the river. It is not in my province to pass judgment upon its operations; but the fact remains, nevertheless. During my term of service, it has been an invariable rule of conduct, from which I have never departed, to forbear the expression of opinion or complaint upon the official action of others; but I feel it to be a solemn duty to say, in this official and formal manner, that Admiral Porter's published official statements relating to the Red River campaign are at variance with the truth, of which there are many thousand living witnesses, and do foul injustice to the officers and soldiers of the Army, living and dead, to whom the Navy Department owes exclusively the preservation and honor of its fleet.