of the main object of the Red river expedition, for this force was necessary to movements east of the Mississippi; that should his expedition prove successful, he would hold Shreveport and the Red river with such force as he might deem necessary, and return the balance of his troops to the neighborhood of New Orleans, commencing no move for the further acquisition of territory, unless it was to make that then held by him more easily held; that it might be a part of the spring campaign to move against Mobile; that it certainly would be if troops enough could be obtained to make it, without embarrassing other movements; that New Orleans would be the point of departure for such an expedition; also, that I had directed General Steele to make a real move from Arkansas, as suggested by him (General Banks,) instead of a demonstration, as Steele thought advisable. On the thirty-first of March, in addition to the foregoing notification and directions, he was instructed as follows:
Major-General Meade was instructed that Lee's army would be his objective point; that wherever Lee went he would go also. For his movement two plans presented themselves: One to cross the Rapidan below Lee. moving by his right flank; the other above, moving by his left Each presented advantages over the other, with corresponding objections. By crossing above, Lee would be out off from all chance of ignoring Richmond or going north on a raid. But if we took this route all we did would have to be done while the rations we started with held out; besides, it separated us from Butler, so that he could not be directed how to cooperate. If we took the other route, Brandy Station could be used as a base of supplies until another was secured on the York or James river. Of these, however, it was decided to take the lower route. The following letter of instruction was addressed to Major-General B. F. Butler:First. If successful in your expedition against Shreveport, that you turn over the defence of the Red river to General Steele and the navy. Second. That you abandon Texas entirely, with the exception of your hold on the Rio Grande. This can be held with four thousand men, if they will turn their attention immediately to fortifying their positions. At least one half of the force required for this service might be taken from the colored troops. Third. By properly fortifying on the Mississippi river, the force to guard it from Port Hudson to New Orleans can be reduced to ten thousand men, if not to a less number. Six thousand more would then hold all the rest of the territory necessary to hold until active operations can again be resumed west of the river. According to your last return this would give you a force of over thirty thousand effective men with which to move against Mobile. To this I expect to add five thousand men from Missouri. If, however, you think the force here stated too small to bold the territory regarded as necessary to hold possession of. I would say concentrate at least twenty-five thousand men of your present command for operations against Mobile. With these and such additions as I can give you from elsewhere, lose no time in making a demonstration, to be followed by an attack upon Mobile. Two or more iron-clads will be ordered to report to Admiral Farragut. This gives him a strong naval fleet with which to cooperate. You can make your own arrangements with the Admiral for his cooeration, and select your own line of approach. My own idea of the matter is that Pascagoula should be your base, but, from your long service in the Gulf Department, you will know best about the matter. It is intended that your movements shall be cooperative with movements elsewhere, and you cannot now start too soon. All I would now add is, that you commence the concentration of your forces at once. Preserve a profound secrecy of what you intend doing, and start at the earliest possible moment.
Fort??, Va., April 2, 1864.General: In the spring campaign, which it is desirable shall commence at as early a day as practicable, it is proposed to have cooperative action of all the armies in the field, as far as this object can be accomplished. It will not be possible to unite our armies into two or three large ones, to act as so many units, owing to the absolute necessity of holding on to the territory already taken. from the enemy. But, generally speaking, concentration can be practically effected by armies moving to the interior of the enemy's country from the territory they have to guard. By such movement they interpose themselves between the enemy and the country to be guarded, thereby reducing the number necessary to guard important points, or at least occupy the attention of a part of the enemy's force, if no greater object is gained. Lee's army and Richmond being the greater objects toward which our attention must be directed in the next campaign, it is desirable to unite all the force we can against them. The necessity of covering Washington with the Army of the Potomac, and of covering your department with your army, makes it impossible to unite these forces at the beginning of any move. I propose, therefore, what comes nearest this of anything that seems practicable: The Army of the Potomac will act from its present base, Lee's army being the objective point. You will collect all the forces from your command that can be spared from garrison duty — I should say not less than twenty thousand effective men — to operate on the. south side of James River, Richmond being your objective point. To the force you already