against the enemy; without them, the railroads and the heart of Texas may be theirs, and our cause perhaps irretrievably ruined in the West. In a word, in my judgment, Texas is virtually the Trans-Mississippi Department, and the railroads of Galveston and Houston are virtually Texas. For whoever is master of the railroads of Galveston and Houston is virtually master of Texas, and this is not the case with any other part of Texas. The enemy at Houston in force, and occupying the Teche and La Fourche country, no troops of ours can operate with safety below a line from Niblett's Bluff to Alexandria before information of the movements could be obtained in time to enable our troops in Lower Louisiana to fall back. On the other hand, if General Taylor's troops occupied Niblett's Bluff or the road leading by the Calcasieu to it, we could always form a junction, and the enemy could not advance far up the country without exposing his rear to us. He would, therefore, be confined to the Teche and La Fourche country. The wheat region of Texas, important as it is, cannot be reckoned as vital as this section above spoken of, at which the enemy is now aiming with a masterly view of its importance.
I beg, therefore, not only that the troops asked for by me, that is, the return of those sent by me to General Taylor, be ordered, including Rountree's command of Bates' regiment, but that Major-General Taylor be ordered to Niblett's Bluff, or on the road from Vermillionville to Niblett's Bluff, as soon as possible.
Since writing the above, I have received a dispatch from General Taylor, stating that at least 15,000 men have crossed from Berwick Bay and are advancing into the country, and if they march west toward Niblett's Bluff, he will attack them in flank. If General Taylor can follow him, and you can send troops to Niblett's Bluff from Shreveport and Alexandria or intermediate places, he might be prevented from crossing the Sabine by me, if Franklin does not make another descent upon the coast and thus occupy me entirely. If Franklin should attack me from the coast, I would not be able to make head against both columns, and one or the other must succeed unless I get large re-enforcements. I am sure Franklin will attack me, and, in case he does make his appearance, Taylor's troops and as many others as can be sent from the Red River might be sent by one of the upper ferries over the Sabine, and effect a junction with me at Liberty or Houston before the enemy could get possession of the latter place.
Captain Fauntleroy states that the sailors sent by me to man the iron-clad at Shreveport can be of much more service here than there. I sent all the sailors I had, and now want crews for three gunboats that could be made of the greatest service to me. I hope, therefore, that you wills end all these sailors to me; I cannot get along without them; also low and high pressure engineers and steamboatmen generally. I have no crews for the captured steamers, and want the drilled sailors which Captain Barney took from me last March. The guns of the Harriet Lane sent from here, I learn from Major Doublas, are still not mounted, and are in danger of being captured. We are extremely in want of them. I hear the Missouri can never be of any use, and I trust these guns may be returned to me. I will send for them if you will permit them to return. On the river, they can be turned and taken anywhere; with me, they will be comparatively safe and very efficacious. Please let me hear from you as soon as possible.
I have ordered Bankhead's brigade and all the mounted troops excepting two companies from Bonham to Houston forthwith. As the enemy