May 8, 1863: Banks wants to meet at Port Hudson

Nathaniel P. Banks

Nathaniel Banks had agreed with Grant that they would reduce Port Hudson, then go up to Vicksburg together. However, when Grant was ready, Banks had gone off up the Red River. Now Banks is back and calling Grant to Port Hudson. Grant is not in any mood to divert his attention from Vicksburg.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, Alexandria, May 8, 1863-8 a. m.
Major-General GRANT:

DEAR SIR: My command reached Alexandria yesterday without opposition, the advance entering the town early int he afternoon. Admiral Porter, with his fleet and several of Admiral Farragut’s boats, took possession of the town yesterday morning without resistance.

I have stated to him that I can furnish his fleet, that of Admiral Farragut, and your transports with coal, and your army partially with provisions, by the Atchafalaya and Red River, but it will be difficult. If Port Hudson is reduced, all this can be done direct from New Orleans, and our future operations will proceed without interruption want of supplies and with certain success.

In answer to your dispatch received in cipher, I replied I could cooperate with you on the 25th instant or the 1st of June. Our successful march here enables me to do this on the 25th May. I shall have 15,000 good men, all told. We can move by the Bayou Sara to the rear of Port Hudson, get our supplies from Baton Rouge, where Major-General Augur can join us with 4,000 men.

With the fleet of Admiral Porter above, that of Admiral Farragut below, and our forces in the rear, or so many of yours as you can spare, the fall of the post will be instant and certain.

I beg your most favorable consideration to this matter.

Lieutenant-Colonel Irwin, my adjutant, will explain my views more in detail.

I have the honor to be, with much respect, general, your obedient servant, 

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