War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0020 W.FLA., S.ALA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXXVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

country of 300 miles with wagon transportation alone, where we were certain to meet the enemy in full force, was necessarily abandoned. A movement in the direction of Alexandria and Shreveport was equally impracticable. The route lay over a country utterly destitute of supplies, which had been repeatedly overrun by the two armies, and which involved a march of 500 miles from New Orleans and nearly 400 miles from Berwick Bay, with wagon transportation only, in a country without water, forage, or supplies, mostly upon a single road, very thickly wooded, and occupied by a thoroughly hostile population.

Being satisfied that it was impossible to execute the orders of the Government by this route for these reasons, which were stated in my several dispatches, I decided, as the only alternative left me for the execution of the orders of the Government, to attempt the occupation of the Rio Grande, which I had suggested on the 13th September as an alternative if the land route was found impracticable. Leaving the troops opposite Berwick Bay upon the land route into Texas, I organized a small expedition, the troops being placed under command of Major General N. J. T. Dana, and sailed on the 26th of October, 1863, for the Rio Grande. A landing was effected at Brazos Santiago, which was occupied by the enemy's cavalry and artillery, the 24 day of November. The enemy was driven from his position the next day, and the troops ordered forward to Bronwsville, 30 miles from the mouth of the river. Colonel Dye, of the Ninety-fourth Illinois Volunteers, commanding the advance, occupied Brownsville on the 6th day of November, where, a few hours after his arrival, I made my headquarters. Major-General Dana was left in command of this post. As soon as it was possible to provide for the garrison and obtain transportation for the navigation of the river, which occupied four or five days, I moved, with all the troops which could be spared from that point, for the purpose of occupying the passes on the coast between the Rio Grande and Galveston, intending the complete my original plan by the occupation of Galveston from the coast below instead of above. Point Isabel was occupied on the 8th [6th] of November. By the aid of steamers, obtained on the Rio Grande with the consent of the Mexican Government, we were enabled to transport troops to Mustang Island. The troops were under the command of Brigadier General T. E. G. Ransom, who carried the enemy's works commanding Aranass Pass, after a gallant assault, capturing 100 prisoners and the artillery with which the place was defended. The troops instantly moved upon Pass Cavallo, commanding the entrance to Matagorda Ray, and which was also defended by strong and extensive fortifications and a force of 2,000 men, artillery, cavalry, and infantry, who could be re-enforced in any emergency from Houston and Galveston. The troops were under command of Major General C. C. Washburn, then commanding the Thirteenth Corps.

Fort Esperanza was invested, and, after a most gallant action, the enemy blew up his magazine, partially dismantled his defenses, and evacuated the position, the major part of his men escaping to the mainland by the peninsula near the mouth of the Brazos.

The occupation of Bronwsville, Brazos Santiago, the capture of the works and garrison at Aransas Pass, and the defeat of the enemy and the capture of his works at Fort Esperanza by our troops, left nothing on the coast in his possession but the works at the mouth of Brazos River and on the Island of Galveston, which were formidable, and defended by all of the forces of the enemy in Texas. The command of General Magruder had been withdrawn from different parts of the State and concentrated on the coast between Houston, Galveston, and Indianola,