Acting Brigadier-General Bankhead to proceed to Fort Smith with Gurley's and Hardeman's regiments and a company of light artillery, and also with any other forces he may have in hand. Gurley's regiment is nearly full, but Hardeman's regiment consists of only eight companies, few of which are full. Under the circumstances, I deemed it best not to order Colonel Gurley to report with five companies to Colonel Ford, which you were informed by me had been done, to enable him to collect conscripts and deserters, in accordance with Lieutenant-General Smith's instructions, but to send to Colonel Ford, for that purpose, Lieutenant-Colonel Davidson's battalion of four companies of cavalry. It is believed by Brigadier-General Scurry and Colonel Terrell, both of whom are well acquainted with the country in every respect, that this force will be sufficient for Colonel Ford's purpose. I concur with them in this opinion,and have therefore taken this step, as I have great need for the few troops of my command on the coast. I cannot make any other disposition of my forces without inviting an attack on some vital point. I have ordered one company of Colonel Terrell's regiment to Waco and vicinity, on account of information received from Mr. Brown of the same nature as that referred to me by Lieutenant-General Smith. This was done before the reception of the information through Lieutenant-General Smith. This company has been sent into that section to break up nests of deserters, &c., represented to be in existence in that quarter. This duty will be temporary. Colonel Terrell's regiment has been ordered to the mouth of the Brazos, to defend that rich and populous country,which invites invasion. Fully impressed with the inadequacy of my force to defend the coast, I beg that Lieutenant-General Smith will, if possible, order back to my command the troops originally belonging to it but now serving with Major-General Taylor in Louisiana - already greatly thinned by death and other causes. The State troops will, I hope, eventually reach 10,000 but their organization requires time, and consequently before they are ready for field service the State my be invaded. I have requested the Governor to turn over to me all the arms belonging to the State in her arsenal, with the hope to arm properly the volunteer troops already in the field, so as to be prepared as far as possible for an invasion at any time. As Major-General Taylor has informed me that there are fourteen batteries of light artillery in his command, and as I have only seven in this district, I beg that the three batteries of light artillery commanded by Captains Gonzales, Gibson, and Nichols, originally taken from this command, be ordered back.
In order to show the limited number of troops at Galveston, I have the honor to inclose a copy of a communication received from Colonel (Acting Brigadier-General) Debray,* commanding that post.
I have the honor to be,very respectfully, your obedient servant
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
WAR DEPT., C. S. A., Richmond, Va., August 12, 1863.
Lieutenant General E. KIRBY, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: This will be handed you by Colonel McCray, of the Thirty-first Arkansas Regiment, who has been ordered to report to you for assignment to duty temporarily in the Trans-Mississippi Department, his regiment having been for a time united with another. Colonel McCray, like several other officers, has made application for authority to