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[734] gave me, a speedy capture of that city seemed to be reasonably certain.

On the fifteenth of August, 1863, I was informed by a despatch dated the sixth of that month, that there were important reasons why our flag should be established in Texas with the least possible delay, and instructing me that the movement should be made as speedily as possible, either by sea or land. I was informed by a despatch dated the twelfth of August, and which I received on the twenty-seventh of August, that the importance of the operations proposed by me in previous despatches against the city of Mobile was fully appreciated, but there were reasons other than military why those directed in Texas should be undertaken first; that on this matter there was no choice, and that the views of the government must be carried out. I was advised in a despatch dated the tenth of August, that the restoration of the flag to some one point in Texas could be best effected by the combined military and naval movements upon Red River to Alexandria, Natchitoches, or Shreveport, and the occupation of Northern Texas. This line was recommended as superior, for military operations, to the occupation of Galveston or Indianola; but the final selection was left to my judgmant.

The difficulties attending a movement in the direction of Shreveport — a route which had been thoroughly explored in the spring campaign of 1863--satisfied me that it was impracticable, if not impossible, for the purposes entertained by the government. The selection of the line of operations having been submitted to me, I made immediate preparations for a movement by the coast against Houston, selecting the position occupied by the enemy on the Sabine as the point of attack. This point was nearest to my base of supplies. It was immediately connected with Berwick's Bay by the Gulf and by the river, and also by railway, from the Bay, with New Orleans. If suddenly occupied, I regarded it certain — as the enemy's forces were then disposed — that we could concentrate, and move upon Houston by land with fifteen to seventeen thousand (15,000 to 17,000) men, before it would be possible for the enemy to collect his forces for its defence. The occupation of Houston would place in our hands the control of all the railway communications of Texas, give us command of the most populous and productive part of the State, enable us to move at any moment into the interior in any direction, or to fall back upon the Island of Galveston,--which could be maintained with a very small force,--holding the enemy upon the coast of Texas, and leaving the army of the Gulf free to move upon Mobile, in accordance with my original plan, or wherever it should be required.

The expedition sailed from New Orleans on the fifth day of September. Its organization and command had been intrusted to Major-General W. B. Franklin. The gunboats assigned to the expedition by Admiral Farragut were under command of Captain Crocker, a skilful and brave officer. He was thoroughly acquainted with the waters of Sabine Pass, having been stationed there for many months, and was anxious to participate in the expedition. The forces were organized for operations upon land. The gunboats were intended to assist and cover their debarkation and movements upon the coast. At various points between the Sabine and Galveston, a landing was practicable and safe: unless the weather or the forces of the enemy should intervene, nothing could prevent a successful debarkation of troops at some point upon that coast.

General Franklin's instructions were verbal and written. He was directed to land his troops ten or twelve miles below Sabine Pass, or at some other point on the coast below; and proceed by a rapid movement against the fortifications constructed for the defence of the Pass, unless the naval officers should find, upon reconnoissance, that the works were unoccupied, or that they were able to take them without delay. Nothing was wanting to secure the success of the expedition. The troops were in good condition, the weather fine, the sea smooth, and the enemy without suspicion of the movement. Instead, however, of moving below the pass and effecting a landing of the troops, General Franklin states in his report that it was determined that Captain Crocker should enter the pass and make an attack directly upon the works. The gunboats (originally lightly-constructed merchant vessels) were unable to make any impression upon the works; they soon ran aground in the shallow water and narrow channel of the pass, under the guns of the fort, and were compelled to surrender. The enemy's position was occupied and defended by less than a hundred men. The troops under General Franklin made an unsuccessful, and, as it appeared afterward, a feeble effort to land within the bay, after the loss of the two gunboats, and returned to New Orleans without attempting a landing below upon the coast in rear of the works. Had a landing been effected even after the loss of the boats, in accordance with the original plan, the success of the movement would have been complete, both as it regarded the occupation of Sabine Pass and operations against Houston and Galveston. The enemy had at this time all his forces in that quarter, and less than a hundred men on the Sabine.

The failure of this expedition having notified the enemy of our purposes, it was impracticable to repeat the attempt at that point. The instructions of the government being imperative, I then endeavored, without delay, to carry out my instructions by a movement toward Alexandria and Shreveport, or, if possible, across the southern part of Louisiana to Niblett's Bluff. The attack upon Sabine Pass was made the eighth of September. The fleet returned on the eleventh. On the thirteenth, orders were given for the overland movement. The troops were rapidly transferred to the Teche Bayou, and organized for this expedition. But it was soon found impracticable, if not impossible, to enter Texas in that direction.

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