assemble all the flats, &c., for a movement by water. With the steamboats now running, the Florida included, I have scarcely been able to get the necessary forage and subsistence stores for a few days ahead. If I kept the Florida, I doubt if our daily wants can be supplied. There certainly cannot be forage and provisions enough accumulated to stand a siege.
The island opposite Niblett's Bluff is a low swamp, full of sloughs, and is 3 miles wide. In high water it is entirely submerged, a few high knobs excepted. The bottom on the Texas side is of the same condition and width. This is the report of men well acquainted with both. The island and bottom will be thoroughly examined, and the facts reported to headquarters.
I have here to remark that the 150 negroes have not yet reached here from Houston, and that they will be needed on their arrival to finish the fortifications. I have no tools here to employ the troops.
The steamboat Jeff. Davis is laid up at Orange with a broken shaft. A new shaft is being made at Houston for her. She cannot, therefore, until repaired, be used for the purposes mentioned in your letter.
To defend this place for any length of time, should the enemy make a vigorous attack, and be able to bring the artillery reported to be in his possession, I ought to have 1,500 infantry, more artillery with pieces, and a full supply of subsistence, quartermaster's, and ordnance stores (ammunition, &c.); also some engineer officers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and negroes, all provided with the necessary tools to complete the fortifications already begun, and erect some new ones which, in my opinion, are absolutely needed, and to erect bomb-proofs at least sufficient to protect ammunition and subsistence stores. If this is done, my only hope can be to defend the place to the last extremity, as the enemy, with the forces and means which he has, will probably be able to cut off all communication with Texas-to cut my way through the enemy, should either subsistence stores or ammunition become exhausted, or to be relieved by the major-general commanding before this last extremity occurs.
Captain Bland, with his company of State troops, reached here, as already reported, a few days ago. They refused to leave the State of Texas. After much persuasion, Captain Bland, with 10 volunteers from his company, left to join Captain Nolan on the Calcasieu. He returned yesterday evening without reporting to me, crossed the Sabine, and went home. Major Tait, with two companies of State troops, is at the Texas side of the Sabine, but he reports that his men are unwilling to leave the State of Texas. I have no means to feed and forage such troops, and I respectfully request that no more State troops be sent to this place. Confederate States infantry, cavalry, and artillery are needed.
Inclosed please find a report from Captain Nolan.*
The steamboat Dime will, in compliance with your orders, be turned over to the marine department. Her barge is now used to transport water to Sabine Pass for the use of the troops. The C. S. steamer Sachem has not yet reached here, and is supposed to be still aground on the bar at the mouth of the Sabine River.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. S.-Five mule-carts, laden with corn, were sent to Captain Nolan this morning. Fifty-two mounted men of my regiment, under Captain [Edward] Beaumont, left here this morning to join Captain Nolan.
*See Nolan to Livesay, October 22, 1863, p. 347.