and occupied from fifteen to twenty 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. The column of General A. J. Smith was a partially independent command. General Sherman, in his despatch of the tenth of April, received the sixteenth, informed me that “the thirty days for which he had loaned me General Smith's command would expire on the tenth of April, the day after the battle of Pleasant Hill.” General Smith's instructions, which he showed me, required him to confer constantly with Admiral Porter, the approved friend of the Army of the Tennessee. His orders were dated “Headquarters Red River Expedition, Steamer Clara Bell.” He never declined cooperation with me, nor did he receive orders from me. He made no official reports of his forces or their operations. He was in no wise responsible for the results of the expedition, and may perhaps be said to have gained as much by its failure as he would from its success. When his thirty days were up, he claimed the right, at Grand Ecore, to return to Vicksburg, irrespective of the condition of the army or the fleet, and did not consider himself at all responsible for the inevitable consequences of his withdrawal, to the army or the navy, nor for that detention which their preservation demanded. That responsibility I was called upon to assume in written orders. I entertain no doubt that his official course was entirely consistent with his orders, and I cheerfully acknowledge the generous and earnest efforts of General Mower, of the Sixteenth, and General T. Kilby Smith of the Seventeenth corps, to infuse into the different corps that unity of spirit which is as essential to victory as the valor of the soldiers in actual battle. I gladly accord to the men of their commands the honor of having fought a desperate enemy, superior in numbers, with as much gallantry and success as that which distinguished the troops of my immediate command. No higher praise than this can be given to any soldiers. Alexander's troops never fought better. The results of the position of the cavalry train, and the loose order of march by the leading column of troops under Major-General Franklin, on the eighth of April, before the battle of Sabine Cross-Roads, have been stated. A commanding officer is of course responsible for all that occurs to his command, whatever may have been the cause. I do not shrink from that responsibility. But while it was both proper and necessary for me to give personal attention to the prompt advance of all the troops and fleet from Grand Ecore, on the morning of the seventh, it was supposed that the movement of a single column of thirteen thousand men, moving in advance on one road for a distance of less than fifty miles in such manner as to be able to encounter the enemy, if he offered resistance, might safely be intrusted to an officer of the reputation and experience of Major-General Franklin, whose rank, except in one instance, was superior to that of any one officer of the expedition, or of the department of the Gulf. I make no complaint of the navy; but in view of its prolific despatches, long since published on this campaign, I may properly repeat a few facts already stated. The success of the expedition depended solely upon celerity of movement. The navy delayed the advance of the army at Alexandria sixteen days, and at Grand Ecore three days. It occupied four days in moving from Grand Ecore to Springfield Landing, a distance of one hundred and four miles, upon what the despatches call “a rising river, with good water,” where it arrived two days after the first battle and one day after the decisive battle of the campaign at Pleasant Hill. It detained the army ten days at Grand Ecore, and eighteen days at Alexandria on its return. These are not opinions; they are events. To the army they were pregnant and bloody events. The difficulties of navigation, the imperfect concentration of forces, the incautious march of the eighth of April, and the limited time allotted to the expedition, were the causes of its failure. We owe nothing to the enemy, not even our defeat. Could any one of these difficulties have been avoided, the object of the campaign would have been accomplished. But the occupation of Shreveport could not have been maintained. The presence of the enemy would have required such a force for its defence as could not have been supplied by the river, and for which no other arrangement had been made, as suggested in my despatch of the thirtieth of March. The only possible method of maintaining this position would have been to concentrate at this point a force superior in numbers to the enemy, with sufficient time to pursue him wherever he should move, even if it took us to Galveston, on the Gulf coast. This was suggested as a possible result of the campaign, but it was not embraced within the original plan, and was specially precluded by orders received from the Lieutenant-General commanding the armies. I remain, sir, Your obedient servant,
N. P. Banks, M. G. V.
General Franklin's Report.
headquarters Nineteenth corps, and detachment Thirteenth corps, Grand Ecore, April 14, 1864.I make the following report of the operations of the troops under my command, from the date of their leaving Natchitoches until their arrival at this place. The cavalry force under Brigadier-General Lee, the detachment of the Thirteenth corps under Brigadier-General Ransom, and the division of the Nineteenth corps under Brigadier-General Emory, left Natchitoches on Wednesday, the sixth inst., in the order in which they are mentioned. A part of the cavalry had already encamped some ten miles out, and the remainder,
Major George B. Drake, Assistant Adjutant General:
Major George B. Drake, Assistant Adjutant General: