at stake and command some means, in connection with what you have already been advised as being done in placing considerable supplies upon the Fort Davis road, forces me to believe that sooner or later this summer a large force from Texas will be moved against this Territory. This conclusion, you will observe, is formed solely upon information available from Texas toward this direction. I know nothing about movements on the Gulf side, but judging from the scarcity of means to subsist the rebel troops within that State it does not seem improbable to anticipate that a portion of them will be sent in this direction, to be maintained upon such supplies as can be derived from Chihuahua and the Mesilla Valley. The resources of the latter section will be very considerable the coming harvest. As the enemy must look for his supplies en route, having little to start with, his advance by the Pecos upon he northern part of the department need scarcely be looked for, and we can readily learn if he sends a portion of his force that way.
To abandon the Mesilla Valley will not only give the Confederacy communication with the Pacific, but it will help the enemy on to Fort Craig by affording him subsistence. Of course if I fall back I will destroy all I can, but the work will not be thorough among green crops. If we have any chances of success at all in making a stand right their permit me to suggest that there it ought to be done. I have shown in another letter how I shall soon have ten companies. If the general commanding will allow me to bring in the four from Fort West (they are ineffective now to pursue Indians, and those are a secondary consideration to the Texass just at this moment) my strength will be quite formidable. They should come in at once to enable the cavalry to recruit the animals. With due deference to the better judgment of the general commanding the department, I venture the opinion that here, with 2,000 men and a first-rate battery of artillery, is the place to make a stand and destroy any force up to 4,000 men that the enemy are likely to bring against us. It is in no spirit of bravado that I offer to stake my life upon the result.
From communication with the general commanding I consider it quite practicable to concentrate this force here, and hence the suggestion. A regiment called from Colorado to protect the northern part of the Territory while the troops there were relieving the garrison at Fort Craig, and the latter being united, with Shinn's battery, to my command, and the matter would be accomplished, and all I believe in good time.
If the enemy gets the Mesilla Valley he will be the more ready for Fort Craig and the upper country. Cannot he be met here and be defeated, or, if not defeated, badly crippled, without endangering any subsequent plan of defense? Though I feel warranted in thus expressing my views as to the plan of operations, and feel a conviction that they would be successful, I need scarcely add that the more mature judgment of the commanding general will find me ever ready and zealous in carrying out any measures he may see proper to adopt.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. R. WEST,