impracticability of portions of the ground, and having broken down their horses by the fatigue of the journey.
The enemy's shipping had shelled them all the way down, moving pari passu, but without damage. Colonel Buchel informs me that he did not attempt to dislodge the enemy for the reason that his efforts would have been attended with very heavy loss (say 100 men), and the advantage to be gained by a successful effort not being in his opinion commensurate with the sacrifice. The scouts from the peninsula had not reported at my departure this morning from Colonel Buchel's command, which was hurried by the report from the signal officer at the mouth of the Caney, received at 5 a.m., that the enemy had landed a force on the Gulf shore, near the extremity of Cedar Lake. We went down immediately, and found the report to be incorrect, having arisen from the beaching of a Confederate States vessel, consigned to Messrs. Ball, Hutchings & Co., laden with Mexican blankets, salt, and sundries. The vessel will be lost. The cargo is saved, and has been removed by my orders.
The vessel was overhauled by the Yankees, and had all her passengers removed. During the examination of her papers, the captain took advantage of the occasion under cover of the darkness and put directly to the shore, beaching her about 5 miles from the mouth of the Bernard, on the Gulf shore. She was from Tampico, and brings no arms or ammunition; nothing but the above-mentioned articles. Every article of value was being removed when I left. She will be dismantled at once.
It seems that the object of the enemy was clearly indicated, by their moving rapidly down the beach, to be the cutting off and capturing of Captain Henderson's company of exempts, who had been engaged for several days previous in scouting far down on the peninsula. This conclusion is the more apparent, as he landed about 300 men at Dutch Town, just below the point at which the company was engaged in scouting the day previous. This company, however, I am informed by Captain [E. S.] Rugeley, made their escape by passing in boats to Matagorda. Nothing is said of their horses, the inference, of course, being that they fell into the enemy's hands. None of the enemy's forces were captured, and we suffered no loss. Several of Colonel Buchel's command were absent from roll-call this morning, but are presumed to have straggled.
Communications from Colonel [James] Duff and Colonel [John S.] Ford have been sent forward to you to-day. Nothing later of importance is received from any source.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. P. TURNER,
Captain W. A. ALSTON,
No. 4. Report of Colonel A. Buchel, First Texas Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION,
Camp near P. McNeel's Plantation, December 31, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, on the morning of the 29th instant, I received intelligence of the arrival of two or three gunboats near the works being erected at the mouth of the Caney, and of the landing of a force of men 12 miles below on the peninsula. I immediately