[Inclosure Numbers 3.]
HDQRS. DIST. OF TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA,
Houston, June 23, 1863.
Chief of Staff, Trans-Mississippi Department:
GENERAL: Since writing my letter of the 22d, I have been informed by Lieutenant-Colonel Gray, Third Texas Regiment, who has been acting as assistant adjutant-general to Brigadier-General Bee, on the Rio Grande, that a large steamer, sailing under English colors (name unknown), has arrived at the mouth of the Rio Grande. She is English built, armed with six Whitworth guns, has a speed of 12 knots under steam, and is also fast under sails, and has a valuable cargo on board. The parties who have brought her over are desirous of selling to the Government for cotton the vessel, guns, and cargo. She is represented as being suitable for war purposes, and, I think, could be provided with a captain and crew and sent to sea in a short space of time.
Should the views expressed in my letter of the 22nd instant meet with the approval of Lieutenant-General Smith, in regard to the seizure of cotton in the hands of Government contractors, to whom that cotton would be returned when the goods contracted for by them had arrived, I think I would be enabled to purchase this vessel with the cotton thus obtained.
I trust that this information will prove acceptable, and that due power will be given me accordingly, or rather through me to General Bee, who commands the Western Sub-District.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
[P. S.]-Since writing the above, Mr. D. T. Bisbee, a contractor and agent for a French house, has arrived in my office, to submit to me his contract with Mr. Randolph, former Secretary of War, which has been measurably fulfilled by the arrival of a steamship, the Sea Queen, loaded with goods, at the mouth of the Rio Grande. This steamer is not, however, the vessel reported by Lieutenant-Colonel Gray. Three other steamers from Mr. Bisbee's contractors in Europe are on their way, one from Hamburg, one from Havre, and one from London. The Peterhoff also belonged to the same parties.
Mr. Bisbee is satisfied there is enough cotton in Brownsville to load this vessel that has arrived; cotton sufficient to load her being only equal in value to about one-sixth of the cargo brought in. The other vessels, as they arrive, can be loaded with cotton from various points on the coast. Mr. bisbee is willing to receive the cotton at different points in the interior convenient for transportation. The value of these cargoes will be $1,500,000, as their cost in Europe.
With such accumulating evidence of the necessity of purchasing supplies now here, I am sure that the commanding general must perceive the necessity of abrogating all inchoate and incomplete contracts in favor of obtaining these valuable supplies now within our reach.
I am authorized to state by General Bee that he has been informed by the French consul at Brownsville that the French blockading fleet will not interfere with any goods contraband of war intended for our Government. Letters have been shown me by mr. Bisbee from influential parties in Europe to the effect that unless the cotton is promptly forthcoming, the credit of our Government will be extremely injured. This will be undoubtedly the case.