Richmond, November 27, 1862.
Captain ED. GOTHELL,
Engineer Corps, P. A. C. S., Richmond, Va.:
CAPTAIN: You will proceed without delay under the orders herewith to Alexandria, La., and report in person to Major General R. Taylor, commanding Department of Western Louisiana, for duty as an engineer officer on the defenses of Red River and other approaches now open to the enemy.
The importance of defending the water channels penetrating Western Louisiana from the Mississippi River is fully appreciated by the War Department, and it is hoped something may be done to this end at an early day.
It may be possible to obstruct the channel of the Red River at some point near its mouth-if not at a higher point-with timber made into rafts, cribs, or driven as piles. Such obstructions should be commanded if possible by guns placed on a commanding position, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the enemy to remove them. Batteries should be built for the guns, giving as go shelter and cover as possible, and the batteries should be connected with land fronts of sufficient strength if possible to resists assault, thus enabling a small garrison, say 400 or 500 men, to hold the position for a time and until they could be relieved by the mobilized forces of the department. Of course the trace of each work must be of small development to fulfill these conditions.
Careful reconnaissances of the Atchafalaya and Washita should be made, with a view to decide upon a proper defense should i be deemed desirable by the general commanding. For the want of guns of heavy caliber field batteries alone may have to be relied upon for protecting the obstructions. What is to be done should be done promptly; therefore much must be left to your judgment. I have just learned that the Chief of Ordnance can furnish two 24-pounders on siege carriages and two 32-pounders on barbette carriages for the defense of the rivers in question, and that they will be ordered at once from Charleston, S. C., to Major-General Taylor.
Funds will be placed to your credit at Shreveport, La., for defraying the expenses of the contemplated works. You will keep the usual disbursing accounts, and forward the same to this bureau at the end of each quarter, viz, 31st March, 30th June, 30th September, and 31st December. A monthly cash statement for each month of the year will also be sent to this office, with a report of your operations.
Very respectfully, yours,
J. F. GILMER,
Colonel of Engineers, in Charge of Bureau.
HDQRS. DIST. OF TEX., N. MEX., AND ARIZ, No. 1.
Houston, Tex., November 29, 1862.
I. Major-General Magruder hereby assumes command of this district. Commanding officers of sub-districts and of separate commands will forthwith forward to these headquarters field returns of their troops, accompanied by letters giving such detailed information in relation to their commands as may be necessary for the information of the major-general commanding.
II. The chief quartermaster, commissary, ordnance officer, medical