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[736] the pirates that infested our coast and preyed upon our commerce. The army would have been at liberty to operate upon the Mississippi, or to cooperate with the army of the Tennessee, by the Alabama River and Montgomery, in the campaign against Atlanta. These general views are substantially expressed in my despatches of the twelfth and thirtieth of December, 1863. If successfully accomplished, it would have enabled the government to concentrate the entire forces of the department of the Gulf, as occasion should require, at any point on the river or coast, against an enemy without water transportation or other means of operation than by heavy land marches, or to move by land into the rebel states east or west of the Mississippi. The winter months offered a favorable opportunity for such enterprise.

I remain, sir,

Your obedient servant,

N. P. Banks, M. G. V.


The Red River campaign.

To the Secretary of War:
While engaged in earnest efforts to effect the capture of Galveston, with a view to these general operations, contemplated for the winter campaign, I was informed by a despatch received January twenty-third, and dated January fourth, that “it was proposed that General Steele should advance to Red River if he could rely upon your (my) cooperation, and be certain of receiving supplies on that line;” and that “the best military opinions of the Generals of the west seemed to favor operations on Red River, provided the stage of the water would enable the gunboats to cooperate;” that “this would open a better theatre of operations than any other for such troops as General Grant could spare during the winter.” I was also informed that Major-General Grant and Major-General Steele had been written to, and I was instructed to communicate with them upon this subject.

Having made known my plan of operations on the coast, and fully stated, at different times, the difficulties to be encountered in movements by land in the direction of Alexandria and Shreveport, I did not feel at liberty to decline participation in the campaign, which had been pressed upon my attention from the time I was assigned to the command of this department, and which was now supported by the concurrent opinions of the General officers in the west, on account of difficulties which might be obviated by personal conference with commanders, or by orders from the General-in-Chief. It was not, however, without well-founded apprehensions of the result of the campaign, and a clear view of the measures (which I suggested) indispensable to success, that I entered upon this new campaign.

The necessity of a perfect unity of command and of purpose, as well as of constant communication between the forces assigned to this duty, and then separated by hundreds of miles, was too apparent to admit of question.

I replied to this despatch on the twenty-third of January, stating that “with the forces proposed” --to wit, General Sherman and General Steele, and my own disposable force — I concurred in the opinion that the Red River was the shortest and best line of defence for Louisiana and Arkansas, and as a base of operations against Texas, and that with my own forces and those of General Steele, and the assistance of General Sherman, the success of the movements on that line might be made certain and important, and that I should cordially cooperate with them in executing the orders of the government.

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. First. Such complete preliminary organization as would avoid the least delay in our movements after the campaign had opened. Second. That a line of supply be established from the Mississippi, independent of water courses. Third. 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. Fourth. Such preparation and concert of action among the different corps employed as to prevent the enemy, by keeping him constantly employed, from operating against our positions or forces elsewhere; and, Fifth. 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 cooperate with or support each other. The detachment of troops from the command of Major-General Sherman, though operating upon the


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