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76 Series I Volume XXXIV-III Serial 63 - Red River Campaign Part III


the proper guarding of prisoners, and certainty of supplies. Ask General Rawlins to show you the memorandum I gave him at Cincinnati, and I merely ask your attention to it as a matter of discretion, with General Grant, when he has leisure to think of it. I now have an irregular territory from Kentucky to Louisiana, the posts of which are not militarily connected; but, of course, I will do anything and everything which you and General Grant think I can undertake.



Nashville, Tenn., April 7, 1864.

Major General F. STEELE,

Commanding Department of Arkansas:

GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Grant telegraphs me from Culpeper, Va., of date April 6:

I have directed General Banks to turn over to General Steele and the navy the defense of Red River. Please give General Steele such directions as you think necessary to carry out this direction.

I feel embarrassed to make to you, who are on the spot, any specific orders, especially as I know not what force you are supposed to retain on Red River or how far the present expedition has progressed. I have heretofore recalled the command of General A. J. Smith, which was a specific and limited loan to General Banks' viz, for thirty days after they entered Red River, viz, March 10. Your forces and General Banks' conjoined (viz, yours 7,000 and Banks' 17,000) would be able to accomplish al that should be done. I will therefore only give you my general views, leaving you to act in concert with Admiral Porter according to the condition of things when you receive this.

Red River is a much better stream than the Arkansas; usually has six months' good water all the way to Shreveport, and can at all times be navigated by small boats to that point, excepting across the bar at its mouth and over the rock shoals at Alexandria' but by taking advantage of the high-water season a good supply of provisions could be accumulated at Alexandria and Shreveport. These two points are the strategic points of Louisiana. Shreveport, if held in strength, covers all Arkansas and Louisiana, and is the proper offensive point as against Texas. If able, therefore, Shreveport should be captured, supplied well at present stage of water and held in force, communications kept up with New Orleans by water and with Fort Smith by land.

If, however, you have not already got possession of Shreveport and feel unable to reduce it, then Alexandria or Pineville, on the opposite bank, should be held and strongly fortified. With this point in our possession the enemy could not approach the Mississippi River, and would hardly cross Red River, and would hardly cross Red River as against Arkansas and Missouri. I have recommended to General Grant to give you all available forces in Kansas and Missouri, for those remote districts would be safe from any danger save local guerrillas if you