as I predicted in my letter to you from Piedmont. The number of troops is estimated by the coolest men and stated by prisoners to be 15,000 picket me-mostly of Gran't army. The transports could not pass unless the war steamers reduced our fort of six 32-pounder guns.
Lieutenant [R. W.] Dowling, in immediate command of the fort, directed his men not to return the fire of the enemy, as our guns were of short range.
The enemy at length approached with his war steamers, four in number, backed by the whole fleet of transports, to a point well within our range, when Lieutenant Dowling, of the Davis Guards, open upon the advanced ships of war, and in some thirty-five minutes two surrendered, with over 300 prisoners, and another left in a crippled condition.
The fleet then backed out and sailed east.
I arrived the day after at Beaumont, a strategic point, with a portion of the troops from near Piedmont, and have since concentrated 2,500 men here, and greatly strengthened the works at this place.
I expect their return soon with iron-clads, and hope to be prepared to meet him successfully. Had they got in, they would have proceeded at once to Niblett's Bluff, cut us off from Major-General Taylor, and probably advanced on Houston. Now it will be more difficult. The prisoners all stated that they were bound for Houston, and will yet get there.
The flag officer (commanding officer) of the naval squadron of the Gulf was captured.
It is the most brilliant affair I have ever read of.
I will place Colonel Sulakowski in command of all the troops on the Sasbine, and give him also the construction of all the works. We have some 250 negroes nw hard at work, and will get more. The troops are some 250 negroes now hard at work, and will get more. The troops are in the finest spirits. I inclose copies of my orders to the troops, and hope they will be found approved by the lieutenant-general commanding.*
The enemy's fleet of transports, I have reason to believe, have returned to Berwick Bay.
It will either return here to force its way to Niblett's Bluff, or it will advance against Major-General Taylor, in Lower Louisiana, and force him back.
In my judgment General Taylor ought to be ordered to fall back to Niblett's Bluff, or at least to the Calcasieu, removing his depots to that point. Should he come here, we can unite in preventing him from getting possession of Niblett's Bluff, Beaumont, or Houston; and as long as Red River is not navigable, he will be afraid t advance into the State, lest the join forces of General Taylor and myself should cut him off from his base by marching into Lower Louisiana by the Vermillionville road.
He will then be effectually checked unless he gets heavy re-enforcements. I have written to General Taylor to this effect, but he may not have gotten my letter.
I submit this proposition to you for such orders as you may think proper to give.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
*See Magruder's report, Part I, p. 306.