lumber take the inferior and vacant buildings in Indianola and reconstruct the bridges down the Saluria Bayou; use a barge there for a ferry as before; conscript 300 negroes and make the road complete (in two weeks) from Indianola, and then carry the guns back to Fort Esperanze, repair and reoccupy it. Meantime plant the additional torpedoes in the channel below the fort and especially down near the bar. Then, general, from a point on the bay just north of Shea's, or Big Bayou, construct a military road back through the prairie toward General Lake, that in retreat the guns and wagons may get out of range from the gunboats that might pursue. Bearing in mind that all the guns we have for that Pass are siege guns, I believe they could be saved if we should be overpowered; but I have faith that torpedoes and pluck, a dauntless front, will keep off the enemy, unless he had a very powerful navy and resolves to risk the destruction of many vessels and men in taking possession.
I have just read this sentiment from Judge Tucker's Partisan Leader, and it expresses my own in respect to the abandonment of all our coast: "Bread without salt is more than men deserve who surrender or retire before the enemy without a fight." The sentiment is forcibly to the point, for this portion of the coast is in front of our salt flats. I hold the same or similar views in regard to the reoccupation of Shell Banks.
Place torpedoes in the Pass Aransas at suitable opportunities and reoccupy the fort; complete the dike to the main-land by using the dredge, and place an adequate force upon the island to man the guns and garrison the fort, and devote them, if necessary. We shall then reopen the line of inland trade, and bring salt and other freight up and take cotton down, as before.
In discussing matters on that portion of the coast I am reminded to refer again to Major Shea. I learned after our interview respecting his position that Colonel Hobby had found the aversion of the troops in that region to his being placed over them was so intense that he expressed a perfect willingness to waive his pretensions and take a Lieutenant-colonelcy under Major Shea. Both commands, Corpus and Lavaca, desired Shea to have command-an officer of experience and merit and thoroughly disciplined soldier, while they regarded Hobby as having resorted to political influence to supersede or forestall him.
It would appear that Hobby regarded the aversion as insuperable, and hence his willingness to take a secondary position. Should you upon reflection desire anything done in the premises a dispatch would probably reach me at Richmond in time to see Judge Gray before any action.
The aversion of a portion of the planting community to furnish negroes or corn at the pieces fixed for Government use is such as to give vent to some very unpatriotic sentiments. The cases are not numerous, but pretty bitter. A report has circulation that a quartermaster bought axes of Houston merchants, giving &15 each to men who had monopolized them at $5 in order to make the sale. Objection there is made to pressing from farmers and supporting extortion in Houston merchants.
I have just seen Commodore Hunter, who has built a good flat, and is now constructing another for convenient use in crossing troops or the like. he appears in good health and so with his men, though their station here, at a point so far from any possible utility, is a subject of constant derision among the people.
The flood in this spasmodic river is subsiding and corn is being planted.