estly requested you, as nearly, I think, as the 10th instant, to take this step. The point at which the enemy strikes Houston is vital to the Trans-Mississippi Department. I cannot concentrate more than 5,000 troops to meet him, and he will gain his object - the possession of Houston and the evacuation of Galveston, and the establishment of a new base, Galveston, for future operations in the interior - before he can be prevented by me, and before I can receive re-enforcements from any other source excepting yourself.
With the hope that you will move at once to Niblett's Bluff, I have ordered Captain Nolan to retain 12,000 rations of breadstuffs and some beeves on the other side of the river. There will be on this side and near Beaumont 700 beeves, and also cattle in abundance, belonging to private individuals, on the Louisiana side, near Niblett's Bluff.
Should you determine, under these circumstances, not to render me any assistance, please inform Captain Nolan with the least possible delay, so that he can remove these provisions.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA,
Beaumont, September 26, 1863.
Lieutenant General E. KIRBY SMITH,
Commanding Trans-Mississippi Department:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I address you semi-officially, because I think I can explain in a few words my views.
The enemy is reported by Major-General Taylor at Berwick Bay, 15,000 strong, under Ord and Herron, and I have since learned they advanced to Pattersonville, 10 miles beyond New Iberia. These are not the same troops that made the attack at Sabine Pass. I believe this latter force to have been from 12,000 to 15,000 men, not a man less, and that they will certainly renew the attack on the coast, while Ord's troops will advance by the way of Niblett's Bluff, and try to reach Houston by the railroad. To meet these troops, I cannot concentrate 5,000 men in a month, but I will make it difficult for them to reach Houston, and thus give myself time to get together a larger force. In May last I had about 16,000 troops. I loaned General Taylor 5,000, and hastened to his assistance from the Rio Grande with some 3,500 more. He declines coming to my assistance now, and I desire the return, with the least possible delay, of the troops sent him by me, in accordance with your orders. The whole force, exclusive of State troops, numbers on paper about 11,000 men, of which I have only about 7,000 effective men, and these are scattered from the Sabine to the Rio Grande, including Bankhead's brigade. I cannot calculate on a great number of State troops armed than 5,000 men, and these cannot be assembled within a month, and are only armed with shot-guns. I have, therefore, ordered Bankhead, now in the Indian Territory, to march with his brigade as rapidly as possible to Houston, and I respectfully request that you will order Brigadier-General Major's brigade to report to me at this place, via Niblett's Bluff, if he can get there before the enemy reaches there.
You were kind enough to order Bates' regiment back, and part of it is now at the mouth of the Brazos, but the rest, under Major [L. C.] Roundtree, is still in Louisiana, be whose authority I know not. I beg that they be ordered to join their regiment. With these troops I may make head