WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., September 17, 1862.
Hon. E. SPARROW, C. S. Senate:
SIR: In reply to your letter of the 13th instant I have the honor to inform you that 14,400 stand of arms have been actually sent to the Trans-Mississippi Department and 5,000 of those taken at Manassas have been ordered to the same destination; 10,400 of those forwarded were for Arkansas, of which 5,000 were captured by the enemy; and 4,000 were for General Tylor in Louisiana, the arms needing repairs. Those of General Taylor were sent to Macon and those for Arkansas to Atlanta, Ga., and consequently a portion of them have not reached their designation.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War.
CLINTON, LA., September 21, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
DEAR SIR: Excuse me for calling your consideration to the position now held and being fortified by our troops at Port Hudson, on the Mississippi River. An intimate knowledge of the country and a deep interests this is one of the most formidable points on the river. The enemy's fleets can be held in check or destroyed here and they cannot indulge their "shell practice" without encountering the direct fire of our guns. They have no banks to shelter them while delivering their own fire. In passing up or down they must come directly up to the muzzles of our pieces and must feel the effect of our fire whenever they attempt to pass. The Essex is said to have been fatally injured on her last trip down by the fire of our guns, two 24 and one 42 only being mounted at the time. Pieces of large caliber are being mounted, and when the batteries are equipped according to design the strongest vessel will find the position too hot for gunboats and too strong for any amount of iron sheeting that will float. The position is of the strongest character so far as the command of the river is concerned.
As relates to land movements it is not so strong as Vicksburg and other points. The place is approachable over a large and leave country, presenting very few natural difficulties to a land attack. The position of a deafening force would be one not free from serious difficulties, while and advancing foe would encounter but few natural impediments.
This position is of the first magnitude, and should be held against all contingencies and at any cost. It gives us command of a section of the river from here to Vicksburg; guards the country watered by Little Red, Black, and Washita Rivers, in Louisiana; provides a safe means of transit for supplies and munitions of war, and opens communication with an immense producing area in the West. Texas is brought into communion with all the interests of the nation, and her abundant products can and will find their way to our army depots. The western side of the rivers is our only reliance for sugar, and already thousands of hogsheads are collected on the other bank, under the range of our guns, awaiting transportation. Western Louisiana produces immense quantities of salt, and all that is needed is the means of transit to fill the demand both for public and private uses.