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[88] command had been broadened to embrace the TransMis-sissippi department, and heroic Richard Taylor had flitted to Opelousas where, however, he was not to stay many days. Taylor had been a much-traveled man over the battlefields of the Confederacy.

Banks had left New York with 20,000 men. In New Orleans he found about 10,000, with eight batteries of artillery. These combined gave him 30,000 men—not a small force considering the limited ranks of the Confederates scattered here and there in Louisiana. Banks' troops were promptly consolidated into the Nineteenth army corps. Already his eyes were fixed upon the Red river valley. The conquest and occupation of that country was, in his dreams, to prove the crowning achievement of his military career in the State. But this movement was delayed, partly by the need of settling matters in New Orleans, and partly by expeditions operating along with gunboats in the bayous of the neighborhood of the city.

The first months of 1863 saw marked activity among the Federals in southwest Louisiana. Banks, with feverish anxiety, was sending but expeditions to the old fighting grounds about the Atchafalaya and Berwick bay. It was the first buzz of the Red river bee which was to sting him a year later. Weitzel, commanding the Fourth brigade, reached Brashear City on February 12th. This expedition was intended to be in co-operation with the principal movement under General Emory by Bayou Plaquemine and the Atchafalaya to the Red river country. Banks, thus early, was aiming to perfect his knowledge of the narrow and crooked water system of lower Louisiana, preliminary to his master stroke against Shreveport. As Confederate partisan rangers, all natives, were patrolling the country roads, an invading force in its marauding trips was reasonably sure to meet with some of these bold riders.

Weitzel's orders were to open communication between

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