using one for the transportation of wood. The third barge has to be repaired, lying sunk on the flats at Galveston.
Hoping this statement may be satisfactory, I remain, your obedient servant,
JNO. H. STERRETT,
Superintendent of Transports.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C., Numbers 292.
Houston, October 27, 1863.
* * * * *
XII. The major-general commanding learns with surprise and extreme regret that some companies of the State troops near Niblett's Bluff have refused to cross into Louisiana, even to scout, with a view of ascertaining the position and movements of the enemy.*
Such a course could not have been expected from men of intelligence and patriotism, whose all is at stake in this contest. Cavalry troops are the eyes of an army.
The Confederate cavalry regiments are temporarily dismounted to meet the emergency, and their horses are left at Columbus. In the meantime they serve as infantry, and it will require some ten or fifteen days to march their horses to the Sabine; this is already ordered.
The commanding general took it for granted that he could depend upon the State troops (cavalry) for the performance of the necessary duties of cavalry in Louisiana until the arrival of the horses of the Confederate cavalry. This is essential to the best interests of the State and country; to the proper disposition of the army, and especially to the safety of the State troops themselves. Were he to undertake a regular campaign in Louisiana, taking the State troops from Texas for a long period, it might be a question; but to observe the movements of the enemy, and to harass and obstruct his march, if practicable, is so obviously the duty of an army occupying a position, and having an enemy on its flank, as to require no explanation. Only one instance is on record on this continent where State troops refused to cross a geographical line to meet the enemy of their country, and that occurred with Massachusetts soldiers during the last war with Great Britain; surely Texas is not Massachusetts.
Soldiers of Texas, do not throw the mantle of your approbation over the conduct of Massachusetts; do not permit your State to be recorded as the only one on the continent to follow her suicidal example; do not let it go forth to the enemy that you decline to meet him anywhere. There is no better opportunity to meet and foil him than on his march to Niblett's Bluff, should it be required of you.
Your comrades in the volunteer Confederate service are some beyond the Sabine, and others are marching rapidly to resist the invaders. Do not stain the fair escutcheon of your noble State by withholding your duty whenever called upon; the enemy will be delighted with your backwardness. Your wives, your families, your friends, and the country will weep your refusal. The commanding general relies that this example of weakness and indiscretion exhibited by a few companies will not be followed by any other of the State troops. He is necessarily detained for a short time from this portion of the army near the Sabine, in order to secure the necessary supplies, and to make indispensable arrangements. He will soon join you, and share with you the hard-
*See Turner to Buchel, October 29, 1863, p. 370.