for the purpose of carrying their proposition into effect. I discouraged their plan, whilst I stated I would forward it to you. The fall of the river, with the complete cessation of navigation, which must continue till the ride this winter, makes it a matter for consideration whether any steps should be taken for the obstruction of this portion of the river. To be prepared in advance for obstructions of the river above when necessity compels the abandonment below, I believe would be a wise forethought; further I am not prepared to recommend.
As regards your proposed expedition toward Natchez, let me caution you against being too far influenced by the desire of retaliation. This is now the most sickly season of the year; our infantry should not necessarily be exposed to the malaria of the swamps. Let the enemy march through them as much as he pleases; his thin ranks this fall will be more telling than defeat. We cannot afford unnecessarily to lose a man from duty. When the frosts come, you will have occupation for twice their number, if you have them.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C.,
Beaumont, Tex., September 10, 1863.
Commanding Dist. of Western Louisiana, Alexandria:
GENERAL: I have the honor to state that the enemy appeared on the morning of the 8th instant off Sabine Pass, with twenty-two vessels and a force supposed to be at least 15,000, commanded by Major-General Franklin, and several vessels, coming inside the bar, engaged the battery at the Pass.
He was repulsed with the loss of two steamers, the Clifton and Sachem, and thirteen guns, together with about 350 prisoners. He has disappeared, and it is supposed has gone to the Calcasieu.
If this be so, and there is every reason to believe that it is, from the testimony of prisoners, as well as evidence which has fallen into our hands, it is evident to my mind that your forces should be brought forward to Niblett's Bluff. I have, therefore, to request that you concentrate your forces as rapidly as possible at Niblett's Bluff. With the assistance which I may be able to lend, by our combined efforts we may crush the enemy at a blow, but unless this be done the enemy will ascend the Calcasieu, the communication between us will be broken, and Lower Louisiana lost; and the State of Texas may be a prey to the enemy, who will in all probability push forward, and may succeed in getting possession of Houston, and thus reducing Galveston. I have written to Brigadier-General Mouton, supposed to be at Vermillionville, requesting him to concentrate his brigade at Niblett's Bluff, in order that we may co-operate.
The prisoners state that the object of this expedition is to cut off your retreat by getting possession of Niblett's Bluff and throwing forces across the Alexandria.
I think that a concentration of your forces at Niblett's Bluff, with such troops as I can furnish, will defeat his plans.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,