Major-General Magruder instructed me to say to you that he will answer your communication this evening, to be forwarded by flag of truce to-morrow morning.
At the same time allow me, sir, in vindications of the honor of our arms, as well as the honor of Col. J. J. Cook, C. S. Army, who was the bearer of the flag of truce alleged to have committed the breach against the rules governing belligerent in their communications, to make to you and plain statement of facts, which I trust will exonerate us in your mind from any charge of perfidy in our intercourse with you.
The buoy seen on the Gulf beach was washed off several days ago during the last gale. I was informed that on the 20th instant, whilst Colonel Cook was on board the steamship Brooklyn, at about 3 o'clock p.m., a launch of one of our vessels in the harbor did tow in another buoy. This was done without any instructions from or knowledge of Major-General Magruder or any other officer in command here. I have been unable as yet to communicate with the officer who knowingly or unknowingly has rendered himself quilt of the breach complained of and exact a statement from him during the day. Colonel Cook was prevented by calm and adverse tide from entering the harbor before daylight. Meanwhile I am instructed by Major-General Magruder to say that he will be glad to have the buoy removed by us placed in its former position under the inspection of an officer sent by you or to afford you any other facilities in his power for entering.
As to your complaint of a breach of truce in connection with the Forty-second Massachusetts, I would respectfully state that the land troops were not embraced in the terms of truce on the 1st instant, either directly or indirectly. As soon as daylight came they could have been destroyed by our guns and musketry in five minutes. To avert a misunderstanding on this subject with you, which Major-General Magruder would much regret, he will send a full statement by to-morrow morning.
This communication will be handed to you by LieutenantL. J. Storey, Confederate States Cavalry, and Lieutenant Riley, Confederate States Artillery, together with a communication to you by the French consular agent at this port. These officers are instructed to await your answer.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
X. B. DEBRAY.
UNITED STATES STEAM SLOOP BROOKLYN, Off Galveston, January 22, 1863.
X. B. DEBRAY,
Colonel of Cavalry, C. S. Army, &c., Galveston, Tex.:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of this date, in reply to mine of yesterday touching the buoys, addressed to Major-General Magruder, and whom you inform me is temporarily absent.
I beg to express to you my appreciation of your prompt and voluntary offer to replaced the buoy, which you state was removed me by one of your launches.
As you have led me to expect a letter from Major-General Magruder to-morrow on this and other subjects, you will please excuse me from going further into this subject.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. BELL,
Commodore, Commanding U. S. Forces off Galveston.