tain [H. B.] Andrews to place at the disposal of the president for that road at least 150 negroes, to be applied upon the road east of the Beaumont Bridge to Orange, which force, he says, will enable him to complete the road in a week's time. If Captain Andrews cannot spare the negroes from his bureau, then have n order issued to the superintendent of the New Orleans and Texas Railroad to take a suitable number of negroes from the west side of the river, now employed on that road, and place them on that portion from Beaumont to Orange. No delay when it would be impossible then to work in the swamp through which this road lies.
I make this statement because the steamers in this district are very old and more or less out of repair, and liable at any time to fail notwithstanding all my exertions to keep them in order. The distance from Beaumont to Niblett's Bluff, by the railroad to Orange and then by boat, is 40 miles, and by the route at present taken via the bay it is 80 miles, with the obstacles of two bars to contend with, which at any time are liable to delay everything in this quarter.
Hoping this subject will meet with your earliest attention, I beg leave to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commanding Marine Department.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., September 6, 1863.
MAJOR: Your dispatch of 7 p. m. the 4th has just arrived. Too much time is taken in the transmission of dispatches; seventeen to eighteen hours is sufficient.
Your measures for the removal of stores are wise, but still I can scarcely believe that the enemy are so foolhardy as to venture a small column through so difficult a country as that between Trinity and Alexandria, unless in connection with a heavy force moving from Berwick Bay or Simsport. It is either a plundering expedition or Harrisonburg is its objective point, and a covering force sent over toward Little River to prevent assistance from Alexandria reaching the garrison.
An enemy's column estimated at 10,000 or 15,000 will generally be found to be less than one-half that force, and if 5,000 or 7,000 men venture to Alexandria by the route they are reported approaching, an excellent opportunity offers for opposing them on the Flagon [Bayou], or for striking a blow somewhere in that section of country. Polignac's brigade must be in supporting distance. Major can be thrown to your aid, and, with Walker's division, I know I shall hear good news from General Taylor, who is, I presume, now with you.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, ARMY OF TEXAS,
Fort Brown, September 6, 1863.
Major SANTOS BENAVIDES,
Commanding from Clareno to Eagle Pass:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, with the copy of your correspondence with Governor Vidaurri.