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Ere this, Admiral Porter, with 15 iron-clads and four lighter steamboats, had reached1 the mouth of Red river, where he was joined2 by Gen. A. J. Smith and his 10,000 men in transports, and proceeded next day, pioneered by the Eastport, up the Red to Simmsport, which was evacuated by the Rebels, who fell back on Fort de Russy. Nine of our gunboats entered the Atchafalaya, followed by the land force; while the residue, followed by the transports, continued up the Red, where the Eastport, in advance, was for hours engaged in removing the Rebel obstructions of piles and chains in the channel, which months had been given to constructing and strengthening. These being disposed of, the Eastport and Neosho passed them, and pushed forward to Fort de Russy, where Smith had by this time arrived; and he, after a few shots from the Eastport, assaulted and carried the works, capturing 10 guns and 283 prisoners. Smith, who had started from Simmsport at daylight, marched 40 miles, built a bridge that detained him two hours, taken a large and strong fort by assault, after considerable skirmishing and cannon-firing, had his day's work done and the fort fully in possession before sunset. The main Rebel force, about 5,000 strong, under Gen. Walker, retreated up the river. Porter at once sent his swiftest vessels up to Alexandria, which was abandoned without a struggle.3 The Eastport had come up the night before.

But here commenced the real difficulties of the undertaking. There was hardly water enough in the river to float our heavy iron-clads up to this point; and here was a considerable fall or rapid, up which about half of them were forced with great effort. Porter wisely left five or six of the heaviest below, though Banks deemed naval cooperation essential to the success of the undertaking. One hospital-ship was sunk and lost in getting up. As there was but 6 feet water in the channel at the fall, while our vessels drew from 7 1/2 to 10 feet, it is not surprising that 7 or 8 days4 were spent in getting over those vessels that went higher. During the halt here, Gen. Warner, with four brigades of Smith's corps, surprised5 a Rebel post at Henderson's hill, 21 miles westward, capturing 4 guns, 250 men, and 200 horses.

But embarrassments multiplied. Gen. McPherson, now in command at Vicksburg, called for the return of the marine brigade, 3,000 strong, of Smith's corps, to its special duty of guarding the Mississippi from raids; and it had to be sent. Then it was found necessary to make Alexandria a depot of supplies, Which could not be carried farther; and Gen. C. Grover's division of 3,000 more were left to garrison it. And, as no cooperation could be expected from Steele,6 Banks's 40,000 men

1 March 7.

2 March 11.

3 March 16.

4 March 26 to April 3.

5 March 21

6 Banks says, in his official report:

The partial disintegration of the several commands assigned to this expedition was a cause of embarrassment, though not entirely of failure. The command of Maj.-Gen. Steele, which I was informed by Maj.-Gen. Sherman would be about 15,000, was in fact but 7,000 and operating upon a line several hundred miles distant, with purposes and results entirely unknown to me. Feb. 5, I was informed by Gen. Steele that, if any advance was to be made, it must be by the Washita and Red rivers; and that he might be able to move his command, by the way of Pine Bluff, to Monroe, for this purpose. This would have united our forces on Red river, and insured the success of the campaign. Feb. 28, he informed me that he could not move by way of Monroe; and March 4, the day before my command was ordered to move, I was informed by Gen. Sherman that he had written to Gen. Steele “to push straight for Shreveport.” March 5, I was informed by Gen. Halleck that he had no information of Gen. Steele's plans, further than that he would be directed to facilitate my operations toward Shreveport. March 10, Gen. Steele informed me that the objections to the route I wished him to take (by the way of Red river) were stronger than ever, and that he “would move with all his available force (about 7,000 men) to Washington, and thence to Shreveport.” I received information, March 26, dated March 15, from Maj.-Gen. Halleck, that he had “directed Gen. Steele to make a real move, as suggested by you (Banks), instead of a demonstration, as he (Steele) thought advisable.” In April, Gen. Halleck informed me that he had telegraphed Gen. Steele “to cooperate with you (Banks) on Red river, with all his available forces.” April 16, I was informed, under date of the 10th, by Gen. Sherman, that Gen. Steele's entire force would cooperate with me and the navy. In May, I received information from Gen. Steele. dated April 28, that he could not leave Camden unless supplies were sent to him, as those of the country were exhausted; that we “could not help each other operating on lines so wide apart;” that he could not say definitely that he could join me “ at any point on Red river at any given time ;” and, from the distance that separated us. that I could render no assistance to him — an opinion in which I entirely concurred. I never received authority to give orders to Gen. Steele. My instructions limited me to communicating with him upon the subject of the expedition. I have no doubt that Gen. Steele did all in his power to insure success; but, as communication with him was necessarily by special messenger, and occupied from 15 to 20 days at each communication, it was impossible for either of us fully to comprehend the relative positions of the two armies, or to assist or to support each other.

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