an order for the commanding officer of the French blockading squadron off the Rio Grande to let the arms be landed on our own shores, otherwise the French men-of-war at the mouth of the Rio Grande might prevent the passage of the vessels.
It is of the greatest importance that these arms should be secured as speedily as possible. I have been compelled by recent changes caused by Bank's success in Louisiana to place on the coast troops that are only partly armed-a number of the men having no arms whatever, and therefore being useless in case of an engagement, and an expense to the Government at all times. I trust that these facts will have full weight with you, and that Mr. Mohl will be at once sent abroad, with such instructions from Ordnance Department as will authorize Major Huse to make the purchases without delay. The steamer or steamers before arriving on our coast should be armed with one or two long-range guns, and, if possible, from 50 to 100 men, armed with long-range rifles, should be shipped either in England or at some intermediate port. They should also be under the command of a naval officer, or some trustworthy man devoted to our cause.
The order from the Secretary of War to impress cotton here for the payment of the owners of the steamers, and their cargoes, and a copy of the impressment bill, showing that we have the legal authority to do so, together with the statement, officially made, that there is no blockade whatever on the coast west of Galveston, would, I think, induce merchants abroad to furnish the steamers and arms.
Should you desire to carry into operation these suggestions, please inform me by direct route across the Mississippi, and also via Havana and Brownsville, and I will send coast pilots to Nassau or to Liverpool, if desired, to bring in these vessels. If I can in any way get small-arms in sufficient numbers, these need be no apprehension about the Trans-Mississippi Department, especially about Texas, but the supply now is extremely inadequate, and causes me well-founded uneasiness. I am putting into execution, and have done so since my arrival in the country, every possible plan to accomplish this purpose, but so far without success. General Bee has failed to procure the arms he expected from the United States through Mexican hands. I think the plan here proposed the most feasible. These steamers should also bring our long-range rifled cannon and artillerists to serve some of them on board, should it become necessary on the passage.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
HDQRS. DIST. OF TEX., N. MEX., AND ARIZ.,
Houston, Tex., May 30, 1863.
I. Colonel X. B. Debray is assigned to the command of the troops on Galveston Island, with the rank of brigadier-general, subject to the approval of the President.
II. Colonel S. P. Bankhead is assigned to the command of the Third Military Sub-District of Texas, with the rank of brigadier-general, subject to the approval of the President.
* * * *
By command of Major General J. Bankhead Magruder:
W. A. ALSTON,
Captain, and Assistant Adjutant-General.