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[327] though considerably cut up, so as to be compelled to run into Kingston, Jamaica, for repairs, had but one man wounded. And no wonder; since the Hatteras's heaviest guns were 32s, while of the Alabama's (9 to our 8), one was an 150-pounder on a pivot, another a 68; and she threw 324 pounds of metal at a broadside to the Hatteras's 94. With such a disparity of force, the result was inevitable.

Gen. N. P. Banks, having assumed1 command of the Department of the Gulf, found himself at the head of a force about 30,000 strong, which had been officially designated the “Nineteenth army corps.” With this, he was expected, in cooperation with Grant's efforts up the river, to reopen the Mississippi, expel the Rebels in arms from Louisiana, and take military possession of the Red River country, with a view to the speedy recovery of Texas, whose provisional Governor, Gen. Andrew J. Hamilton, surrounded by hundreds more of Union refugees, was with him at New Orleans, and naturally anxious for an immediate movement upon their State; which they believed ripe for restoration. Their hopes of such a demonstration, however, were soon blasted, as we have seen, by our needless and shameful disasters at Galveston and Sabine Pass. Meantime, Gen. Banks had dispatched2 Gen. Cuvier Grover, with 10,000 men, to reoccupy Baton Rouge, which had been relinquished to the enemy, and which was now recovered without a struggle.

From New Orleans, a single railroad reaches westward to Brashear City on the Atchafalaya, where that jumble of grand canal, river, sound, and lagoon, receives the waters of the Bayou Teche — each of them heading near, and at high water having navigable connection with, Red river. South of the railroad and east of the Atchafalaya, the country had already been in good part overrun by our forces; but our possession of it was imperfect and debated. Beyond and above, all was Rebel; while fortifications at Butte à la Rose, well up the Atchafalaya, and Fort Bisland, at Pattersonville, on the Teche, were intended to bar ingress by our gunboats from Red river or by our land forces from New Orleans. Fort Bisland was flanked by Grand Lake on the right, and by impassable swamps on the left; a Rebel force, estimated [too high] by Gen. Banks at over 12,000 men, held these strong works and the adjacent country; while to hold New Orleans securely, with its many protecting forts and approaches, Key West, Pensacola, Ship Island, &c., with all Texas backing the zealous and active Rebel partisans in Louisiana, who were promptly apprised by their spies of any weak spot in our defenses — to say nothing of the danger of hostile attacks from the side of Alabama and Mississippi--required the larger part of his corps; so that Banks found his disposable force reduced by inevitable details to less than 14,000 men; while the Rebel array in and around Port Hudson was reported by his spies at 18,000; rendering a siege without large reenforcements impossible. He, therefore, turned his attention first to the line of the Atchafalaya.

An attempt to open the Bayou

1 Dec. 11, 1862.

2 Dec. 18, 1862.

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