return of those troops will be extremely difficult, and, if effected, will occupy much time, in consequence of the nature of the soil in wet weather. When once, therefore, we part with them, they can no longer be depended upon in case of emergency on the coast, and I have reason to believe, from the concentration of troops at New Orleans from above, that the enemy will attempt to get possession of the Sabine River from its mouth to Niblett's Bluff, in order to cut off communications with Louisiana, and thus enable him to occupy the State of Louisiana without danger to his communications, whilst with his naval forces, and perhaps others, he will possess himself of Aransas Bay, and threaten San Antonio, cutting off at least our cotton trade with Mexico, and making preparation to take San Antonio, only 120 miles from Saint Mary's, on a route which affords wood and water. The small force at Brownsville, on the Rio Grande-only one regiment and a battery-will then have to abandon that river, and unite itself with the forces in the east. The 5,000 troops sent to Louisiana left me about 11,000 men, exclusive of State troops, the latter not available under present orders. This is the force with which I have to defend a coat of about 400 miles, besides the Louisiana frontier.
I propose to give up, in case of necessity, the Rio Grande and the coast as far as Saluria, the entrance to Lavaca, which will reduce it to about 150 miles, and if I cannot sustain myself at Saluria, to concentrate still further by taking the line of the Brazos (holding its mouth) on the west, and Sabine on the east, defending the Brazos country and the Caney, if possible, and removing everything from San Antonio, should that place be likely to fall into the hands of the enemy.
However important the wheat region may be to us as a source of supply, he who commands between these lines, the Brazos and the Sabien, controls the heart of Texas, and will have beef and corn enough, even if he should not obtain flour enough, to support his army for an indefinite period. Should the succeed in forcing the Sabine, or Galveston, or the Brazos, he will soon take possession of the country here indicated, and will virtually be master of Texas. I think, therefore, that it would be very imprudent to send to Bonham the troops which are being concentrated here, with the following exceptions: Three companies of Griffin's battalion, who will desert unless they are ordered there, as they are from a country in which 17 women and children have already been scalped by the Indians; Gould's regiment, for similar reasons; and a battery of artillery which can be spared, ordering to the coast in the place of these a corresponding number of mounted State troops now ordered to Bonham.
I acted promptly in obedience to Lieutenant-General Smith's orders, but contrary to my own judgment, as I did not understand the injunction in regard to the personal supervision of the movements of these troops and the removal of headquarters, having always superintended personally all movements of my troops when it was possible, having headquarters at Houston, Galveston, and the extreme northern terminus of the Central Railroad.
I believe, however, it was my duty to put the movement in a state of forwardness, and then explain my reasons to the lieutenant-general commanding, that there might be no delay in carrying out his intrusions.
I have reason to believe that within a month, or perhaps within a less time, we shall begin to receive arms. Every conceivable step has been taken to procure them, from the time I received orders from Richmond to the present moment.