September 20, 1863.
[General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON:]
MY DEAR GENERAL: I have not been able to report anything of especial interest to you since you left here. My scouts report no movement of troops about New Orleans except down the river. As they have nato come here nor to any points under observation in this vicinity, I think it not unlikely that large forces are being sent to Texas, as the Yankees now say is being done.
Yesterday I fired at the elliptical tower from the barbette battery, distance 1,200 yards; used the 6 and 7 inch Brooke guns and a 10-inch gun. The firing was excellent, and the result showed the battery to be utterly unserviceable. The effect of one shot from the 10-inch gun would have been to make the whole garrison capitulate or evacuate. It knocked away a huge mass of iron and wood, throwing the splinters all about the interior of the battery, and breaking the shot itself into a hundred pieces. The Brooke projectiles were less destructive.
We lost a fine cargo of Government supplies in the Fanny. She was chased into Pascaguola the other day, and burned. She reports having seen the Alabama chased by a gunboat. The cargo of the Alabama was still more valuable than that of the Fanny. The two boats deposited in Havana 450 bales of cotton, which was sold at 36 cents. They may be regarded as the last of the blockade-runners, as they were the best of them.
[W. L.] Powell is very ill; how to replace him I do not know; he is an excellent officer.
We are very anxious you should be placed in command of the vast army now under Bragg at Chattanooga. It seems a great risk to intrust such a force to Bragg after his recent experience.
A letter has just come in from a New Orleans man, who says Grant's forces in New Orleans on the 8th were, from best information, about 42,000 men. There is much dissatisfaction; many desertions in his army. It is rumored that he was about to send an expedition to Texas. Negroes are again coming in slowly.
DABNEY H. MAURY,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., September 20, 1863.
Major General RICHARD TAYLOR:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of September 18. You will suspend the movement of Walker's division. Major's brigade should, however, continue to march to Natchitoches; there it can await events; its central position and mobility will permit its moving in either direction as circumstances demand.
My dispatches this morning from General Price report the enemy moving in force from Benton on Arkadelphia, 12,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry and artillery. I still do not think they will now attempt an advance beyond the Washita.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant
E. KIRBY SMITH,