I directed a large quantity of supplies to be placed at Orange, which is a defensible place, whilst Niblett's Bluff is not. It would be difficult to get quantity of supplies or a large force from Niblett's Bluff to Orange in a short time witch our means there. These means I have ordered to be kept in readiness, subject to the call of the officer at Niblett's Bluff, whenever you advise him that you are retreating to that place; they are steamboats, in daily use, and cannot be spared excepting about the time you absolutely require them. It would facilitate the crossing of the Sabine if a portion of your troops would go by Opelousas to Burr's Ferry. In that case, however, should the enemy occupy Alexandria at the same moment,they might be cut off on the way to Burr's Ferry. Please communicate with me freely and frequently your expected movements,that I may be enabled to render you any assistance in my power. It is embarrassing to act upon mere rumors.
I am informed by Colonel Sulakowski that,in marching from your position to Niblett's Bluff, you cross the Mentan, which with a small force, after having been crossed and the bridge destroyed be is of the opinion can be defended with ease against a much larger number.
I am calling out militia, but have no arms. If you saved any arms by the substitution of good ones which were captured from the enemy, please send them to me at Houston.
In haste, general,very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKEHAD MAGRUDER,
Major-General, Commanding, &c.
P. S.- Should you find an intermediate point between New Iberia and Niblett's Bluff at which you can maintain yourself, and not be able, to draw supplies from Louisiana by sending wagons to Niblett's Bluff, I can always send you supplies of provisions and ammunition. It would be better to give a few days' notice.
HDQRS. DIST. OF TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA, Near Milican, July 29, 1863.
Brigadier General H. P. BEE,
Commanding First Division:
GENERAL: I am instructed by Major-General Magruder to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th of July,giving an account of your proceedings under the orders of Lieutenant-General Smith,and the instructions of Major-General Magruder in accordance therewith, for the impressment of cotton on the Rio Grande,to pay for the cargoes of the Sea Queen,the Gladiator, and Sir William Peel. It is obvious that the obstacles placed in you way result from a combination of merchants, mercantile and consular agents on both sides of the river,to render in-operative the impressment act passed by the Congress of the Confederate States,and in accordance with an express provision of the Constitution of these States authorizing such act.
You say that you deduct 3,000 bales of cotton from the amount at the Rio Grande and arriving there,as the probable amount that will belong to the State, to associations for the benefit of soldiers' families, to planters expecting to buy supplies, &c., and that the whole amount is about 11,000 bales. This will leave about 8,000 bales at your disposal. These quantities are modified by the following considerations, viz, the tax law, which calls for 8 per cent. of all the cotton in the country at the time of its passage. This will give us 880 tables, for under this law there is no