to commence the invasion at any moment, at any point he might select, while the great distances between the Confederate
commands made it impossible to concentrate rapidly or assume the offensive.
When the enemy should develop his plans, the Confederate
maneuver was to endeavor to throw our whole force against one of the enemy's columns.
Believing the enemy would choose the line of Red river
as his main line of attack, when the water rose to admit gunboats in support of the movements of infantry, General Smith
prepared to concentrate against the invasion, for this purpose establishing depots of subsistence and forage along the roads through the barren country between Tyler, Tex.
, and Red river
, and between Camden, Ark.
, and the town of Natchitoches
The people of the Arkansas valley
, given up to the Federals
; were incredulous of the commander's plan of ‘drawing the enemy on,’ and the critical ones invented epigrams expressive of their belief in a disastrous result.
On March 5, 1864, General Holmes
was notified by General Smith
of the opening of the to-be famous Red river campaign
, Federal operations having already been reported by General Taylor
on the Ouachita
‘By Northern dates of February 18th,’ wrote Smith
, ‘the arrival at Little Rock
of one of General Banks
' staff was announced, with the statement that arrangements were being made for the cooperation of General Banks
and General Steele
The intelligence from below makes it probable that a simultaneous movement from General Steele
may be anticipated. . . . You may expect to wind up the campaign by making your headquarters at Little Rock
, returning from leave of absence March 8th, resumed command of his division, and wrote to General Smith
advising him to concentrate 20,000 men and attack Steele
, and relieve the armies east of the Mississippi
by invading Missouri
On the 11th, Lieutenant-General Holmes
, at his own request, was relieved by