War of the Rebellion: Serial 042 Page 0360 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX.

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[CHAP. XXXVIII.

ing approve of my wives. It is my impression that when the enemy marches to Niblett's Bluff he will do so rapidly, and that he will probably land a force at Saint Luis Bay, which is a good harbor, but which, from its being broad and well opened to the sea, could not be defended except by the erection of a work of great magnitude, requiring much time and labor, neither of which could be spared from the much more important place of Galveston, though I have made every effort to do so.

I think, had this winter been allowed us, I could have made the whole coast almost impregnable; as it is, with a force on the coast threatening Houston, and my movable troops available to meet Banks on the Sabine not being more than 6,000 or 7,000 at the most, should I fall back before Banks, he will reach Houston, and should I not do so, the force from the coast will reach Houston.

The difficulty of furnishing corn for cavalry and artillery on the Sabine is very great, the railroad being in horrible condition, notwithstanding great efforts by me to keep in up, the ties having been originally laid flat on the ground, without any embankment, and the country from Vermillionville to Niblett's Bluff, 130 miles, not furnishing one grain of corn.

I am satisfied that there will be a movement by sea as well as by land.

Duff's regiment of cavalry, stationed on the Rio Grande, being too small to offer any resistance there, I have ordered six companies of the regiment to march to this place, leaving four-two of them Mexican-companies at Ringgold Barracks, under command of Major Benavides, one at Brownsville, and two volunteer companies to keep order and protect the public property there. Not knowing but that the enemy is going to the Rio Grande, I think it important, under present circumstances, to instruct Brigadier-General Bee to provide the means for the removal of the property there to Ringgold Barracks, so that it can be done as the enemy makes his appearance off the coast in that neighborhood.

Such instructions will be given to Brigadier-General Bee to-day, and orders will be issued reminding all officers of the necessity of burning all cotton, public or private, which cannot otherwise be prevented from falling into the hands of the enemy.

I deem it my duty to state the case frank to the lieutenant-general commanding, having entire confidence that he will take such steps to avert the threatened disaster as may be in his power.

The lieutenant-general will please bear in mind that my troops, presented on paper, are necessarily scattered over a coast of 400 miles in extent, and on a frontier which incloses a State perhaps five times as large as the State of Virginia.

It is impossible to know with accuracy where the enemy will strike, but I have been gradually accumulating my forces from the Rio Grande and from the coast in this direction.

I will to-day give confidential orders to the officers in charge of depots at San Antonio to prepare for moving their stores to the town of Washington, in Washington County, when San Antonio is threatened and will be beyond my power to succor.

I don't know whether Colonel [P.] Stockton and Major Washington consider themselves under my orders or not, and will therefore suggest that similar directions in their cases be given by the lieutenant-general commanding, and also such orders as he may think proper to give to Major Hart.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,

Major-General, Commanding.