send them now. General Taylor has been relieved from the command of the district of West Louisiana, and ordered to Natchitoches, there to await the pleasure of the President. The circumstances under which he was relieved it is not my business to tell: all that is generally known is, that General Taylor requested to be relieved. I do not wish to be regarded as writing in a mischief-making or partisan spirit. An effort will very probably be made by General Taylor's friends at Richmond to excite dissatisfaction against General Smith, or even to have him relieved from command. As they will, no doubt, take issue on the conduct of the campaign, rather than directly upon any point of difference which may exist between General Smith and General Taylor, I shall endeavor to give you an account of the course of events, together with the reasons (as far as I understand them) for which the principal movements of troops were made. This explanation may enable you to appreciate correctly any discussions of this subject which may come under your notice. Here let me say, you cannot depend upon the truth of many statements you may hear. General Taylor's friends will doubtless get their information from him and those around him here, among whom there is a disposition to criticise, misrepresent, and condemn everything done by or connected with General Smith. General Taylor is a very bad man. You understand that I speak deliberately sentiments I have held, with good reason, for more than twelve months, but which, for obvious reasons, I have never made known except to General Smith and some of his friends, who could see as much as I. I have been as cautious and particular as I know any person occupying my position should be about such matters. About the first of February last, it became evident from the movements of the enemy at New Orleans, Little Rock, and Fort Smith, that a combined offensive movement was preparing against the Trans-Mississippi Department. The Red River valley was to be the theatre of operations. This appeared both from the enemy's movements and from reports from his lines. The northern papers stated that Sherman's force, which had just returned from its expedition through Mississippi, would also be sent for a time to this side of the river, and that Sherman, Banks, and Steele would make a combined movement on Shreveport. Accordingly, every preparation was made for concentrating the troops. Green's division of cavalry was ordered from the Texas coast to Alexandria, while depots of subsistence and forage were placed on the important lines connecting Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Troops of all arms were ordered to be mobilized as well as possible, and held in readiness to move with celerity to any point where they might be needed. This was a critical juncture. It was expected that Sherman would move from Vicksburg or Natchez. Instead of that, however, he sent only two divisions, one of the Sixteenth and one of the Seventeenth, in all about ten thousand men, to the mouth of Red River. From that point this command moved to De Russy, when it again took transports and joined Banks at Alexandria on the eighteenth March. General A. J. Smith commanded the two divisions. It preceded Banks three or four days. It landed at Simmsport March twelve. At that time, the distribution of our forces was as follows: In Louisiana, General Taylor had two divisions of infantry, and one thousand five hundred or two thousand cavalry in detachments. Walker's division, consisting of Randal's, Waul's, and Scurvey's brigades, was posted from Fort De Russy down Bayou De Glaize to Simmsport. Mouton's division, consisting of Polignac's and Grey's brigades, was divided--one brigade near Alexandria, and the other on its way to Alexandria: from Trinity (the junction of the Ouachita, Little, and Tensas Rivers) Banks was organizing his expedition at Berwick's Bay. Colonel Vincent, with the Second Louisiana cavalry and a battery, was near Opelousas, watching him. General Liddell, with a brigade of cavalry and several batteries, was near Monroe, watching the approaches from Natchez and Vicksburg. Green's cavalry, although ordered to move two weeks before this, did not leave the vicinity of Hempstead, Texas, till the fifteenth March, and did not reach General Taylor till between the first and fifth of April. The strength of the column which landed at Simmsport was, as it usually is, overestimated. General Walker, whose force, compared to it, was as four to ten, fell back up the Bayou De Glaize to a point near Fort De Russy, and thence moved to Evergreen, about thirty miles south of Alexandria, where he was joined by General Taylor with Mouton's division. Meanwhile General Walker had left the garrison at Fort De Russy to its fate, as he considered it impossible, from the nature of the ground and the preponderance of the enemy's force, to cover or support the place. It fell, with its garrison, on the fourteenth March by a land attack. General Taylor estimated the strength of this column at twenty-three thousand men. Immediately after the fall of Fort De Russy, the enemy occupied Alexandria. General Taylor was thrown off into the “Pine hills,” and took the road leading up Red River. He halted a short time at “McNutt's Hill,” twelve miles above Alexandria, but soon moved eighteen miles farther back, to “Carroll Jones's,” with his infantry. Meanwhile Banks, with twenty-five thousand men of all arms, drove Vincent up the Teche, and joined Sherman (Smith) at Alexandria about the eighteenth March. Every exertion was made to hurry up Green's cavalry from Texas; but it moved very slowly, and did not all reach General Taylor till about fifth April. General Liddell was ordered down into the country north and east of Alexandria, between the Red and Ouachita Rivers, to annoy the enemy's transports passing. On the twenty-first March, the enemy came out from Alexandria, and surprised the Second Louisiana cavalry, capturing most of that regiment, together with Edgar's four gun battery. This force constituted our rear guard. General Taylor then
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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