HDQRS. DIST. OF TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA, Houston, January 23, 1863.
Commodore H. H. BELL,
Commanding Squadron off Galveston:
SIR: In reply to your communication of the 21st of January, in which you allege a violation of the truce on our part by the truce-boat containing Colonel Cook, of Confederate States Artillery, and on a previous occasion, viz, on the 1st instant, by us, I have the honor to state that you are entirely misinformed in both instances. On the first the guns were planted by us at Fort Point before a single shot was fired by us, and were not withdrawn either during the battle or during the period of truce. The truce-boat containing Colonel Cook, I am informed by that officer, could not possibly re-enter the harbor for want of wind or a favorable tide, and did not interfere with any buoys whatever.
The buoys were washed adrift, I am informed, by a previous storm, and one of them was towed in by a boat containing a single man, without my knowledge or that of the officer in command at Galveston.
This boat was attached to one of our rams lying in Bolivar Channel. The officer in command of the ram could have had no improper object, as the position of the buoys had all been changed by my orders when there was no blockading fleet off Galveston, with a view of misleading such fleet on its return.
You say that you are informed that the Forty-second Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers was fired upon and captured during the existence of the three hours' truce. The facts are that the first flag of truce seen from the shore was over the wharf on which was quartered that regiment. As soon as it was observed all firing in that direction ceased.
During the conference between Brigadier-General Scurry, C. S. Army, and Colonel Burrell, of the Forty-second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, it was announced that the officers in command of the Confederate boats had granted a three hours truce to the vessels of the U. S. Navy, in which the Federal land forces were not included. Colonel Burrell asked of General Scurry the same terms as were granted to the vessels, which were refused, when Colonel Burrell surrendered the whole force under his command unconditionally.
The only violation of the flag of truce committed on the morning of the 1st of January was committed by the vessels of the United States, three of which fled from the harbor of Galveston with the white flag flying at their mast-head, in my sight, in the same perfidious manner that they had entered it, with the white flag flying. I will state further that General Scurry sent to me whilst I was upon the wharf near the Harriet Lane to know if he should fire at your vessels immediately under our guns at the termination of the flag of truce. I answered him not to do so, as I had just sent another flag of truce to Commodore Renshaw, demanding the surrender of the whole fleet, and giving him plenty of time to make up his mind as to my proposition. Your ships were not therefore fired upon at the expiration of the period, and in this way got off with their white flag flying when they could not have done so in any other way.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
From a conversation, since writing the above, with officers of Forty-second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers I find that I am supported