it will hardly be possible to get his troops east of the Miss. in time to be of any use in the spring campaign. Moreover, to withdraw any of his forces at the present time might lead to serious disasters, & to a virtual closing of the navigation of the Miss. River. I submitted your telegram of 10.30 A. M. to the secty of War, who was of the opinion that, before asking the President for an order, I should obtain your views in regard to the extent of the proposed Division, the officer to command it, &c., and that I should write to you confidentially on the subject. Do you propose to include Pope's Curtis' & Rosecrans' commands, or only the present Depts of the Gulf and of Arkansas with the Indian Territory? Is it proposed to give Banks the command of the Division, or to leave him in the subordinate position of his present Dept, or to remove him entirely? In either case, the order must be definite. If Banks is superceded, Franklin will be the ranking officer in the field, and Rosecrans, Curtis or McClernand, in the Division. You have also heretofore spoken of Steele and Reynolds in connexion with this command. I think the President will consent to the order, if you insist upon Genl Banks removal as a military necessity, but he will do so very reluctantly, as it would give offence to many of his friends, & would probably be opposed by a portion of his cabinet. Moreover, what could be done with Banks? He has many political friends who would demand for him a command equal to the one he now has. The result would probably be the same as in the cases of Rosecrans, Curtis, Sigel, Butler & Lew. Wallace. Before submitting the matter to the President, the Secty of War wishes to have in definite form precisely the order you wish issued. Your last instructions to Genl Banks were telegraphed to Cairo on the 27th in as nearly as possible the words of your telegrams to me. Copies were also sent by mail. I enclose herewith a copy. The present proposed change should be decided upon and telegraphed to him & Steele as early as possible." ALS, DNA, RG 108, Letters Received. O. R., I, xxxiv, part 3, 331-32. See following telegram.
Apr. 29th 1864 6 P. M
MAJ GEN H. W. HALLECK
CHIEF OF STAFF.
Of the four Department Commanders West of the Mississippi I would far prefer Gen Steele to take the general charge, but he cannot be spared from his special command, there is no one to fully take his place. I would leave Gen Banks in command of his Department but order him to his Head Quarters in New Orleans. If you could go in person and take charge of the trans-Mississippi Division until it is relieved from its present dilemma and then place a commander over it or let it return to separate Departments