War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0849 Chapter XXXVIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,

Fort Esperanza, Tex., December 13, 1863.

Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE, Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: Yours of the 10th is received. I regret to see so poor a prospect of speedily concentrating men and munitions of war at this point to justify a forward movement. I should await with great patience were it not that on this island there is neither wood, wholesome water, nor forage. Th necessities of my position have compelled me to occupy the southern point of Matagorda Peninsula, where we find drift-wood comparatively plenty, with fair water, and a little very poor grass. The position is entirely secure, and I shall land all troops and stores that arrive there, thus saving the very tedious job of ferrying from this island when we are ready to move. The troops which captured this island I shall retain here until a forward movement is ordered. I do not know what amount of force the commanding general will consider necessary before a forward movement can be safely made.

The time that has already elapsed since we came here has enabled General Magruder to collect all his available force to oppose our march.

From 6 refugees from Matagorda that came in this morning, I hear that Magruder is collecting troops on the Caney, between Matagorda and Brazoria. There are no natural obstacles of a serious character to marching an army along the beach to the mouth of the Brazos River.

On the Caney are large plantations, plenty of corn, sugar, and mules. Our animals are dying here from starvation at the rate of 8 or 10 a day. The importance of reaching a country where we can obtain forage you will readily see. I do not want a large wagon train. one hundred wagons is all I want for 10,000 men, and twenty-five ambulances. There is good water on the bar at the mouth of Brazos River, from 8 to 9 feet. Taking that point, we shall have a good base, near Houston and Galveston. Boats that can cross the bar can go to Brazoria. Having that point, we can supply an army as far a Houston with a small train, and, if we can once reach the inland, we can no doubt press many teams. To send a large number of mules here to starve seems unnecessary.

There seems to be great fault somewhere in regard to sending out coal. The steamer Blackstone arrived off the bar last night, and sends me word that she is out of coal. The steamers Planter and Matamoras at last accounts were aground in Espiritu Santo Bay, without fuel. I have sent a small schooner-load of 10 tons to them, obtained from the McClellan.

Respectfully,

C. C. WASHBURN,

Major-General.

P. S.-We shall need cavalry greatly, as soon as we can get where it can be subsisted. A squadron or tow we ought to have at once.

I send you a few secesh papers.

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,

Saluria, Tex, December 13, 1863.

Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE, Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: Last night, just before sunset, a small schooner, flying a white flag, was seen approaching from the direction of Matagorda. I

54 R R-VOL XXVI, PT I