same line with my own, was under special orders, having ulterior objects in view, and afforded an earnest, but only a partial, cooperation 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 the 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 cooperating 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 twenty thousand men of all arms, of which fifteen thousand 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 seven thousand 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 six thousand men; while Price, with two heavy divisions of infantry, estimated at five thousand, and a large cavalry force, estimated at from seven thousand to ten thousand, held the country from Monroe to Camden and Archidelphia, confronting Steele. Magruder could spare ten thousand 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 five thousand from the north; making a formidable army of from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand men, equal to any forces that could be brought against them, even with the most perfect unity and cooperation of commands. This estimate of the strength of the enemy was given in my despatch of February second, 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 fifteen thousand of the troops under command of General Steele, a detachment of ten thousand from the command of General Sherman, and a force of from fifteen thousand to seventeen thousand men, from the army of the Gulf, making an army of thirty-five thousand to thirty-seven thousand men of all arms, with such gunboats 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 Nineteenth corps, (except Grover's division at Madisonville, which was to join him,) and one division of the Thirteenth 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 Donaldsonville, 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 seventh of March, to meet the forces of General Sherman at Alexandria on the seventeenth. But for causes stated by General Franklin, their march was delayed until the thirteenth, 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 nineteenth, and the infantry on the twenty-fifth. On the thirteenth of March, 1864, one division of the Sixteenth corps, under Brigadier-General Mower, and one division of the Seventeenth 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 toward Fort De Russy, carrying it by assault at four and a half P. M. on the afternoon of the fourteenth. 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
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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