HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C.,
Beaumont, Tex., September 10, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to state that the enemy has withdrawn and disappeared from Sabine Pass.
It is supposed that the expedition, estimated at 15,000 men, commanded, as it is represented by the Federal prisoners, by Major-General Franklin in person, has gone up the Calcasieu. If this be true, he can approached to within 20 miles of Niblett's Bluff, and thus take possession of the place. I can, I hope, fortify against him on the Texas side, at the mouth of the Sabine, but cannot do so on the Louisiana side.
Should the enemy succeed in getting possession of Niblett's Bluff, which I shall do my best to prevent, th army of General Taylor will, in my opinion, be extricated with difficulty. In view of this, and of the defense both of Louisiana and Texas, I beg that Lieutenant-General Smith will order Major-General Taylor to assemble his forces at Niblett's Bluff. I shall send a courier direct to General Mouton, and request that he move his command as rapidly as possible to Niblett's Bluff.
If these troops are concentrated at that point, with such assistance as I may be able to give, after diverting the 2,000 State cavalry from Bonham, at which point I had ordered them to assemble, I hope we may be able to crush the enemy; but, in my opinion, unless such steps are taken, he will invade Texas from Louisiana, and, reaching the heart of the State, get possession of Houston, which will necessitate the fall of Galveston.
I have the honor to state that I received last night letters from Mrs. General Bankhead, inclosing letters from Brigadier-General [S. P.] Bankhead, stating that he had united with Brigadier-Generals [William] Steele and [D. H.] Cooper, and though in search of the enemy, none could be found. In consideration of these facts, I hope the lieutenant-general commanding will see fit to direct Major-General Taylor to move his forces and place them as indicated above. The depots of supplies from Vermillionville to Niblett's Bluff have been established in accordance with Major-General Taylor's request, and thus the movements may be easily effected
The fort at the mouth of the Pass defended by only 40 men. Lieutenant Dowling, of Cook's regiment of artillery, commanded the fort, and Captain Odlum, of the same company, commanded the post. This small force, in the presence of a fleet 15,000 of the enemy, drove off one gunboat, captured two others, thirteen pieces of cannon, and 340 prisoners, who are now here.
This seems to me to be the most extraordinary feat of the war, and I beg that the lieutenant-general commanding will notice the conduct of Captain Odlum, Lieutenant Dowling commanding, and men of the Davis Guards.
Commodore Leon Smith and Captain W. S. Good, of the ordnance department, arrived at the fort during the engagement, passing through the enemy's fire to reach it. Both deserve great credit for their gallantry.
Commodore Leon Smith, seizing the flag, stood with it upon the ramparts, and stimulated the men by his example and words.
I cannot too highly commend this sensible, heroic, and useful officer to the commander in chief, nor speak too highly of the services of Captain Good, who not only manufactures projectiles and ammunition of all kinds, but also is casting excellent brass cannon. This district could do little or nothing without him.