HEADQUARTERS FORT BROWN,
February 23, 1861.
SIR: I have received your two letters, dated the 22nd instant, the former announcing yourself "as commissioner of the State of Texas," delegated to "have an interview with you [me] in elation to matters of business between the Government of the United States and Texas," the latter stating "that a rumor has reached me [you] that an attack is contemplated by your [my] authority upon the Texas troops encamped upon Brazos Island"; that "civil war, with all its horrors, which we may not see the end of, would inevitably ensue," and that your "immediate course of action depends upon the nature of your [my] reply."
I know of no "matters of business" between the Federal Government and Texas which you on the one hand and myself on the other have power to transact. However, as no detriment to the public service can result from a conference, you are hereby informed that I shall be found at my quarters in the garrison at any hour to-day which it may suit your pleasure to appear, for the transaction of all business appertaining to my official duties.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. H. HILL,
Captain, U. S. Army, Commanding.
E. B. NICHOLS, Commissioner.
BROWNSVILLE, February 23, 1861.
SIR: As understood by us at the termination of our interview this morning, I take pleasure in addressing you upon the subject of my mission. I am delegated by the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, at the city of Austin, on the 28th instant, to provide supplies for the protection of this frontier for such protection.
In pursuance of such commission, I have come with a portion of the troops for such protection believing that the Federal troops stationed on this frontier would be immediately withdrawn upon the secession of Texas, and knowing that protection is required here at all times, and that the citizens living here, and their property being thus exposed, would not be safe for even a single day without such protection. I am therefore prepared to receive all such property as you may have in your charge, placed here for the protection of this frontier by the Federal Government, and am authorized to receipt for the same.
The Texas troops who came with me, under Colonel John S. Ford, who has been appointed commander of the Military Department of the Rio Grande, came on a mission of peace, and no act of theirs of their officers shall justify a hostile collision with the Federal troops. It becomes necessary that your troops should be as soon as possible assigned to their respective stations on this frontier, in order to be efficient; therefore I will be pleased to have possession of all government property placed here for the protection of this frontier, at as early a period as may be practicable, consulting your convenience.
Texas is virtually out of the Union already, it being now about 4 o'clock in the evening, and the destiny of this State has been fixed by the people in their sovereign capacity at the ballot-box, and no one who knows anything of the sentiment of this people can doubt for a moment that this is now a sovereign and independent republic. As such the United States troops placed here for our protection are not needed by us - are upon foreign soil. They, therefore, have no further duty to perform