The fort was a very large and complete one. Captain Baker will furnish plans as soon as possible. For the want of small boats, it was not possible for me to get round to McHenry Island, as I desired, to cut off their connections. I have sent a dispatch to Aransas to have all light-draught boats sent here, to enable me to move at once to Lavaca; also to have all troops sent up by water. They destroyed their means of communicating with the land, but I will get up a ferry to-day, if I can, and shall follows them with as little delay as possible.
If you will send the Third Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, here, with that and the First, I will ask no more to go to Houston and take Galveston. I will move to Houston as soon as force enough is concentrated to make it prudent. For the past two days my men have suffered greatly from cold, and I shall expect much sickness growing out of the exposure on these islands. In the fight yesterday, we lost 2 men killed and 2 wounded. Please not forget to send me a battery of 20 or 30 pounder Parrotts. The First Wisconsin Battery, at Brashear City-four 30-pounders-I should like. They will be wanted at Galveston.
C. C. WASHBURN,
Major-General BANKS, Commanding Department of the Gulf.
HEADQUARTERS COAST EXPEDITION,
Fort Esperanza, December 1, 1863.
GENERAL: I wrote you a brief dispatch yesterday morning, informing you of the fall of this fort. The boat I intended to send it upon (the Crescent) I was afterward compelled to take to send to Aransa Pass for supplies, and to order up the light-draught boats there to enable me to move forward.
All the boats there, with one or two exceptions, are helpless for want of coal, as you will see by the inclosed note of Ensign Grinnell.* The Crescent has just returned, and the Saint Mary's, with troops and rations, is in the offing, and I hope will be able to cross the bar to-day. I have determined to move up the Matagorda Peninsula to the mouth of the Brazos River. There are two forts there which must be taken. If I have good luck, I will have that pass in one week. That will be my base of supply from which to move to Houston and Galveston. By the time that pass is in my possession, I shall hope to receive re-enforcements that will enable me to leave the coast and march on Houston. The latter point, I think, should be captured before moving against Galveston. The pass here is nearly 2 miles wide, and it is going to be a difficult job to ferry my wagons and artillery over to the peninsula, but it can be done. While waiting here for supplies yesterday, I thought it best to make a small demonstration toward Lavaca. We formed, and drove a company of mounted men, who were doing picket duty about 3 miles from here, in the direction of Lavaca. It is my intention to run the transports as far up Matagorda Bay as I can, to land supplies and troops, but, before doing so, I thought it best to have a gunboat reconnoiter for rebel boats. I requested Captain Strong to send up his lightest draught boat, which he very readily did. She has not returned. Up to this time, no troops have joined me since I left Mustang Island. I have detailed the Twenty-third Iowa, Colonel Glasgow, to garrison this post.
27 R-VOL XXVI, PT I