Valley? Perhaps I have as much repugnance to falling back as you may have, but if by falling back I risk less ultimately, would it not be wise to do so? We cannot afford to put our main strength at Hart's Mills, away from our supplies, and 450 miles away from the whole year's supplies now en route from the States, and this with many chances for an enemy, an active enemy, to get between us and those supplies, which would result in his having the whole country as well as ourselves at his mercy.
If you have 1,000 troops in hand, you will be likely to draw him into the Valley of the Rio Grande. It was not intended that you should then retire to Fort Craig without striking a blow. Even if he be 4,000, you will fight him whenever and wherever you can; provided, always, that you keep between him and Fort Craig, your source of supplies. To that point you will retire, disputing the ground inch by inch, and falling back no faster than you are driven by actual force. In this connection, I would suggest your having some half dozen water-tanks made for the crossing of the Jornada.
Besides the 1,000 men I hope to be able to spare you, If Bowie ever gets up from the Desert, you will organize guerrilla parties, and arm then with the arms I sent you for this purpose last winter. These will make fine auxiliaries to hover around the enemy, to watch his movements from mountain-tops, and communicate to you, by smokes in the daytime and fires by night, his movements; fine auxiliaries to fire into his camps at night; to run off his stock; to lay the country in waste in his front. They shall have all they can take. This will be a great incentive to the Mexican population in addition to their patriotism, and the knowledge that the Texans will come to live upon them without pay. Messrs. Mills, Jenkins, Lemmon, and others whom you know, together with the best Mexicans, will make splendid guerrillas, partisans, and spies.
How long can 4,000 men live in the Mesilla Valley, if they depend solely upon what they can get there and (without much money) form Chihuahua? You are authorized to call in Fritz's and French's companies, leaving McCleave 20 cavalry and two companies of infantry at Fort West for the present. This is under the supposition that you hear beyond a doubt that a force of rebels is advancing upon you.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES H. CARLETON,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., May 18, 1863.
Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Army:
GENERAL: Grover's division left Alexandria on the 14th; is now at Simsport. Emory's division marched on the 16th, and is 7 miles to-day form Simsport. Weitzel probably marched on the 17th, and will reach Simsport by the 20th, making a concentration of all our forces at that point. We shall move across the Mississippi, without delay, against Port Hudson, with the best chances of success, and join Grant immediately after. A communication received to-night informs me that this is satisfactory to him, and that he will send re-enforcements to us as proposed earlier, for which, however, we shall not wait.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 men, from the incessant labor of the last six