at large expense, have been destroyed, and should we be able to drive the vessels off again the work of defenses would have to be begun almost afresh. The withdrawal of the guns from the batteries and neglect of the defenses on the island is justified, I understand, as having been done by orders from the War Department. This I can hardly conceive possible. I know that the Government cannot undertake to defend every point on our coast against a formidable invading force, but Galveston and its harbor was the most important point on our coast in this State, affording the enemy more facilities as a basis of operations then any other-perhaps than all others. They can break up a larger population, destroy more of our communications and of our productive resources, and speared greater destruction over the same space of country that from any other point. It therefore ought to have been defended more completely and determinedly than any other. I am loath to believe that it has ever been ordered that no defense should be made or no risk of losing guns allowed to make defense against such a force as the enemy has yet had on this coast, nor that means at hand should not be used where there was a reasonable prospect of success. Now, there were four 10-inch and two 8-inch columbiads, two 64-pounder rifled guns, and four 32-pounders sent to Galveston about a year since. There were other 32 and 24 pounders there, brought from Brownsville long before. Some of these guns-most of them, I think-had been mounted and in position, and all could ave been before July. There was a regiment of artillery, under Colonel Cook, on the island and adjacent, besides infantry at various points within distance to come to their support within a day or two. There is also a large supply of ammunition and ball. These means, actively and rightly used, it does seem to me, would have been sufficient to repel any force which the enemy have yet had on our coast. I underhand that the officers in command of this district think so, and that they would have prepared for a contest had their orders allowed it.
At Corpus Christi and Lavaca, with much smaller means, defense was successfully made; the places were bombarded, but the vessels were driven off. It is reported that at both places alight was mad without, if not contrary to the tenor of, orders from headquarters. The only order from the department which I have heard cited as the ground of General Hebert's non-action is one made by Mr. Benjamin, as Secretary of War, on February 23 last [following], when masses of the enemy were pressing on us in Virginia and Tennessee. Parts of that order have been shown to me, but I do not think that it was intended to be construed as it has been, and I have little doubt that the whole document would sustain my view of the parts which I have seen. Wile it clearly called for all the troops that General Hebert had at command to be sent to other States to re-enforce our armies, yet it distinctly excepted those on the Rio Grande, and also "such as are necessary to man his batteries." I announced the necessity of massing our troops in the field, and said that "if Texas is invaded, its effects must be hazarded and our entire troops sent forward," &c.; yet I infer that it meant a formidable invasion-an invasion in larger force than we could reasonably resist, but that it did not anticipate such an invasion would occur; nor did it require that no defense should be made and no preparation to resist an attack of such a character as has been made or as might reasonably be expected for a long time.
I sincerely trust that my view of the matter is right, for not only myself but the most patriotic and reliable men in this State will be disappointed if it be otherwise. I trust also that General Magruder