War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0435 Chapter XXXVIII. THE RIO GRANDE EXPEDITION, ETC.

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My first intention was to fall back up the river to Roma, but, owing to the length of the train and the narrow and tortuous road through the chaparral along the river, every by-path of which was known to the Mexicans, and the impossibility of protecting the train with my small force, determined me to risk the effort to gain the more open country on the outside road, by the Arroyo Colorado and Las Animas. In connection with this, it is proper to state that I received no assistance from the citizens of Brownsville. The company of Captain Cummings, which had been mustered for six months, for special service, dissolved on the morning of the 3d, and disappeared. Out of the great number of Confederate citizens then in Brownsville, not more than a dozen would accompany me in my perilous effort to save the train. The movement of Vidal, I had become satisfied, was connected with Cortinas, and that the persistent efforts of the American consul in Matamoras were at last to be consummated. In a word, that peril was around me on all sides, and, as the regiment of Colonel Duff was, by reiterated orders from headquarters, ordered to Houston, thus leaving me with one company, I was satisfied that the position of Roma could not be held. I shall make my headquarters here until the general commanding can be heard from.

Captain [Thomas] Rabb's company, Thirty-third Texas Cavalry, is now in camp near King's ranch, having come across the country from Carrizo, on the Rio Grande; Captain [J. H.] Robinson's company, same regiment, was on the march from Rio Grande City to Fort Brown, and, if my couriers were not intercepted, he will join me here to-night or to-morrow. Captain Davis, the officer sent to Point Isabel, reports that twenty-six vessels, sail and steam, were landing troops. He counted six regimental flags at their evening parade on Brazos Island, and the decks of their transports were still crowded with troops, and large amount of stores were being continually landed. My impression is, that the expedition is from the Atlantic coast, as the character of the vessels composing the fleet is different from those used in the Gulf. It is possible that the expedition which left Fortress Monroe early in October is the same now at Brazos Bar, and intend to occupy the line of the Rio Grande as a demonstration against the French in Mexico.

Colonel Duff's regiment must remain here for a few days, in order to let their horses recruit, as their duty has been very heavy. I bear testimony with great satisfaction to the good conduct of those troops-Companies A, B, D, and F. Their duty since the Vidal raid has been incessant and arduous, and not a single desertion has occurred.

The services rendered by Colonel Duff demonstrate him to be an accomplished soldier, and to him I am especially indebted for the good order and system which marked every movement of his small command during the exciting days which preceded the evacuation of Fort Brown, and on the march to this place. The country can rely on him for efficient service in any position in which he may be placed.

Lieutenant [James] Tucker, of [P.] Fox's battery, being in Brownsville on business connected with his battery, volunteered to take charge of the howitzer, and conduct it through the desert. Official reports will be forwarded as soon as they can be made out. I was accompanied to this place by Colonel Latham, the collector of the port of Brownsville.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. P. BEE,

Brigadier-General, Commanding, &c.


Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Texas, &c., Houston.