In my interview with you in Rusk, I pointed out the importance to us of the lines of Red River and the Sabine, and a point near Nacogdoches was suggested for a concentration of the State troops intended as reserves or supports for the defense of those lines. A point somewhere in the Northern Sub-District should also be selected as a camp for the State troops intended to support Brigadier-General Steele in a retreat from the Indian country.
Whilst we are threatened by formidable columns of the enemy from Arkansas, the Indian country, and Louisiana, an advance to Red River, even under the most unfavorable circumstances for us, must necessarily be slow, and the letter of the 28th ultimi, above referred to, was intended only to prepare in advance for a contingency likely to happen at no very distant day.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., September 7, 1863.
Major General J. B. MAGRUDER,
Commanding District of Texas, &c., Houston, Tex.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th instant.
My letter in reply to your communication of the 1st instant answers most of the points in yours of the 4th. The State troops organizing in the Northern Sub-District, with a small force of more reliable troops, must suffice for the protection of that district. Griffin's battalion, Gould's regiment, and the battery referred to by you might well be ordered to Bonham, but do not further weaken the force to be relied on for the defense of the Sabine and coast. Pyron's regiment, under the orders from these headquarters, will return to Louisiana when reorganized. I shall not require it to be dismounted, but discipline and example both demand the return for that regiment. They may not remain with Major-General Taylor, but their return is necessary to the maintenance of subordination in his army.
I agree with you in your views of the relative importance of the different sections of your district. I place probably a higher importance than you do on the holding of the Rio Grande. It is our base of supplies. Yet, as great a disaster as its loss would be to us, i see no adequate means of defending it should the enemy organize any large expedition by water for its occupation.
Should an invasion of Texas from New Orleans be contemplated this winter, an expedition may be sent to either Point Isabel or Lavaca, with the Rio Grande or San Antonio for their objective points, or a column may invade the State by Brashear City and Niblett's Bluff, having Houston and the railroad system of Texas for its objective points. General Taylor's disposition of his troops looks to a concentration in the Valley of the Red River, which is the natural and an easy line of operations for an invading column from Lower Louisiana.
Should the enemy take the route by the coast and Niblett's Bluff, which is destitute of supplies and almost impassable for wagons in winter, General Taylor will be in position on their flank to strike a decisive blow and aid you in the defense which is offered to them in front.
Your assurances as to the speedy reception of arms within the dis-