time, and the most serious apprehensions are entertained for its safety. The transports had gone as high up as Springfield Landing, expecting to meet the land forces at that place. The rebels are swarming along the river, and will sink every boat if they can.
Philadelphia press narrative.
Grand Ecore., La., April 10, 1864.The object of General Banks's spring campaign is political as well as military. The importance of the South-West may be properly estimated when we consider our relations with Mexico, and the embarrassments occasioned by the French interference with that republic. The occupation of Brownsville, on the Rio Grande, by General Banks, last year, did much toward checking the designs of the French Emperor. An American army was placed on the frontier of the newmade dependency, and any diplomacy between Davis and Napoleon was thus shattered and silenced. That occupation was merely a check. To make it a checkmate, the capture of Shreveport was necessary. This town occupies a point in the extreme north-western part of Louisiana, near the boundary line of Arkansas and Texas. At the head of steamboat navigation on the Red River, in the midst of the largest and richest cotton district in the trans-Mississippi department, the rebel capital of Louisiana, the headquarters of Kirby Smith, and the depot of supplies for the rebel army, Shreveport is as important to this department as Chattanooga or Richmond. If purely military considerations had controlled, from it is probable that the armies of this department would have been devoted to an expedition against Mobile, or a cooperating movement with the army of General Sherman. But the Government desired Shreveport and the undisturbed possession of the Mississippi, and General Banks was charged with the duty of taking it. His army consisted of a part of the Nineteenth army corps, which he formerly commanded in person; a portion of the Thirteenth army corps, under General Ransom; and a portion of the Sixteenth army corps, under the command of General Smith. The Nineteenth corps is composed mainly of Eastern troops, and came with General Banks when he assumed command of this department. It is now under the command of General William B. Faulkner, formerly of the army of the Potomac, who is next in authority to General Banks. The divisions commanded by General Smith were recently in Grant's army, and in the corps commanded by General Hurlbut. They were sent to aid in the movement upon Shreveport, and began their operations by capturing Fort De Russy, and thus opening the Red River. General Smith occupied Alexandria, the parish-town of Rapides, situated on the Red River, and one of the most beautiful towns in the State. Alexandria was thus made the base of operations against Shreveport, and General Banks, proceeding thence in person, assumed command of the army. After concentrating at Alexandria, the army marched to Natchitoches, an old Indian and French settlement on the banks of what is called, by a strange perversion of words, the “old Red River.” Natchitoches is as old as Philadelphia, and so queer and quaint, that I would be tempted to write you a letter about it, if the events of this busy time were not so urgent. About four miles from Natchitoches, on the river, there is another settlement of dingy houses called Grand Ecore. The river here, in one of its angry, whimsical moments, seems to have abandoned one bank and left it a low, wide, shelving plain, and so violently intruded upon the other bank that it is now a high, ragged bluff, with the sides in a condition of decay, as every rain-storm slices off layer after layer of earth. This is what is called Grand Ecore, and when our army occupied Natchitoches, General Banks came hither and made it his headquarters. Admiral Porter, with his gunboats, accompanied him, and it is now the headquarters of the army and navy. The rebels seem to have contemplated holding Grand Ecore, for on the bluffs around the settlement the remains of works intended for large guns and as rifle-pits, may be seen. These were built last summer when General Banks made a feint upon Shreveport by way of diverting the attention of the enemy from his attack upon Port Hudson. No attempt was made to fortify it when the present movement began on Sunday, April third. General Banks arrived here, and went into camp in a beautiful meadow ground, skirted by pine woods, about two hundred yards shore, and near a small shallow stream, with pine trees growing in it, which the inhabitants call a lake. The headquarters of General Franklin were at Natchitoches. That army consisted of about twenty thousand men, and was thus commanded: The cavalry by General Lee, formerly of Grant's army — said to be a favorite of the Lieutenant-General, and with the reputation of being an efficient and active officer. The artillery was under Brigadier-General Richard Arnold, a captain of the Second artillery, in the regular army, and chief of the service in this department. General Franklin was second in command of the forces. He had one division of his army corps with him, that commanded by General Emory. The division of General Green was left at Alexandria to hold the post. General Smith's force consisted of two divisions. General Ransom's force also consisted of two divisions. On this calculation I make the estimate that the army around Grand Ecore, under General Banks, on the morning of the Sunday he assumed command, numbered altogether twenty thousand men. With this army he began his march. The country through which he was to move was most disadvantageous for an invading army. The topography of Virginia has been assigned as a reason for every defeat of the army of the Potomac; but Virginia is a garden and a meadow, when compared with the low, flat pine countries that extend from Opelousas, far in the South, to Fort Smith in the North, and cover hundreds of thousands of square