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[99] Opelousas. A double purpose in this was to harass the enemy on his flank and rear, which, if not successful in preventing his further advance into the interior, would render it both slow and cautious.

On May 4, 1863, Banks and his army moved from Opelousas toward Alexandria. Banks, on the road to Alexandria, was anxious to make sure of Farragut's fleet. He inquired, ‘Can the admiral meet me at Alexandria on Red river in the last week in April?’ Reaching that city he was joined by four ironclads under Admiral Porter, but the fleet lost its immediate importance with relation to the army's advance. Banks, in regard to his Red river campaign, had himself veered around. ‘My advance is sixty miles above Alexandria,’ he said. ‘We shall fight the enemy if we can find him, but cannot pursue him farther unless we have a chance to overtake him or meet him.’

While Banks was in possession of Alexandria he was, for a time of doubt, mightily disturbed about what he could do in aid of Grant. On May 12th, he showed anxiety about his inability to join Grant against Vicksburg, lamenting that he was ‘left to move against Port Hudson alone.’ On the 13th, having reconsidered matters, he was sure that he could ‘add 2,000 men to Grant's column.’ In consequence of this change of mind, Banks resolved to forego his cherished expedition against Shreveport, in favor of aiding in the reduction of Port Hudson. His Red river scheme being a ‘flash in the pan,’ the government's plan to force an ‘open Mississippi’ had quickly become his own. The safe enjoyment of the Red river valley, according to him, might be postponed until 1864. Well it was for General Banks that the future does not lift up its mystic curtain—as impenetrable to the eyes of man as that veil, rimmed with light, of the temple of Isis seen by Alciphron.

He at once moved his entire army, via Opelousas and New Iberia, back to Brashear City. For the moment,

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