You will greatly oblige me by stating what letters are in the possession of residents of Matamoras that may be used against us, if you can obtain the information.
Some few copies (so I am informed) of letters relating to the exportation of cotton have been furnished to accredited agents or contractors of the Confederate States Government, some of whom may have proven treacherous. Letters, too, may have been intercepted while in charge of couriers, many of whom are Mexicans and well posted, on the other side, and there is a possibility of some having been surreptitiously taken from our office, or even yours, it being so much nearer the Rio Grande.
The major-general commanding is extremely anxious to detect the party or parties thus traitorously working against us, and any clew or information you can impart will be promptly used to bring the parties to justice.
Yours, most respectfully,
EDMUND P. TURNER,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., October 8, 1863.
Major General RICHARD TAYLOR:
GENERAL: Your communication of the 30th ultimo, from Moundville, has just been received. My information from Little Rock indicates a speedy advance. They have re-enforced, as both our secret-service men and the Northern papers state. They are, moreover, accumulating large wagons trains, which come down the Mississippi and by Helena. An advance to Red River is openly proclaimed. I can scarcely credit an advance this season; the fall and winter rains soon set in, and the difficulties of campaigning in this upper country become almost insurmountable. Should they be so foolhardy as to venture a march on Red River, we must concentrate and strike for a decisive blow. Defeat to them so far from their base should be a disaster.
Collect your disposable force in the Red River Valley with as little delay as possible, make your dispositions, and be prepared to march when called on. Supplies should be collected at Natchitoches. Your route will be through that place to Minden or Shreveport, as circumstances may demand. Hebert will probably have to be left in command of the district; of this, however, you must decide. Mouton is a gallant soldier; experience has proved him a better subordinate than independent commander. In any event you will not be far removed, and but a short time absent from your district.
Your action in reply to General Magruder's application was well advised. To have moved your command across the desert piney country to Niblett's Bluff before the enemy moved from Berwick and developed their plan would have placed you in a false position and might have entailed a serious disaster.
Major Douglas leaves in a day or two for the Lower Red River. He will examine and report upon the facilities and the best plan for obstructing the river above Natchitoches. He will advise and consult with you in Alexandria, having collected the necessary information on his trip down.
I have recently returned from Arkadelphia. I found the command in better spirits and condition than I had anticipated. They lost some 1,200 or 1,400 on the retreat from Little Rock. The command has re-