Steele is threatened by a column from Kansas, and has to meet it but a handful of cavalry and his Indians. General Magruder has a force of nearly 8,000, scattered through the vast extent of his district. By calling out the militia for the defense of the coast, and by concentrating his command, General Magruder expects to bring together near Niblett's Bluff a force of about 8,000. General Taylor control within his district an effective force of about 10,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry.
Should the enemy's operations on the Mississippi be successful, General Banks will occupy West Louisiana and the Valley of Red River. I believe I shall be able to bring a force of 18,000 or 20,000 men to oppose him. No further re-enforcements can be drawn from Arkansas, unless the Valley of the Arkansas is abandoned. The movement into Missouri is the teminus ad quem of all my hopes; complete success on the Mississippi will, I trust, enable its realization. The Valley of the Arkansas is, then, all-important, and its abandonment will be ordered only in extreme necessity. The troops in this department are in part unarmed. Orders should be given General Pemberton to further by all means at his disposal the transshipment of all stores, &c.,intended for the Trans-Mississippi; the first temporary opening of communications should be taken advantage of. The course pursued by the enemy's cruisers in the Gulf has cut off in a great measure the material which was expected by the Rio Grande, and we are now dependent upon Richmond for supplies, especially in the ordnance department. I believe that such steps have been taken as will make the department in time self-sustaining.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HDQRS. DIST. OF TEXAS, &C., Houston, Tex., June 9, 1863.
SIR: I am instructed by Major-General Magruder to acknowledge your several letters, and in reply to address you as follows:
First. Colonel [John S.] Ford has not been commissioned a brigadier-general, and will not relieve you.
Second. Colonel [James] Duff will remain with his command on the Rio Grande.
Third. Colonel Woods' regiment and Colonel Buchel's regiment will remain at or in the vicinity of King's ranch.
Fourth. Four of the companies of Woods' regiment will be sent to Colonel [A. M.] Hobby, two for himself at Corpus Christi, and two for Colonel [D. D.] Shea at Lavaca.
Fifth. You will remain on the Rio Grande, and will under no circumstances leave that frontier until further orders.
Sixth. Colonel [P. N.] Luckett will proceed without delay to Navasota.
The general directs me to say that these orders are final, and will not be changed unless the circumstances require it.
The general approves of your request in regard to the two additional siege pieces. You can retain these for Colonel Duff, to assist in the defense of Point Isabel and the mouth of the river. You are requested to Make arrangements to arm Colonel Duff's command as well as possible.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
EDMUND P. TURNER,