HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C.,
Columbus, November 1, 1863.
Brigadier General W. R. BOGGS, Chief of Staff, Shreveport:
GENERAL: I arrived here last night, to use my personal exertions to obtain the means necessary to move a considerable number to troops, principally mounted, to Red River, in accordance with the disposition of Lieutenant-General Smith. The difficulties are almost insurmountable within the time expected by Lieutenant-General Smith, in consequence of the country through which I am expected to march furnishing nothing. It will require eight hundred wagons to carry corn alone for 8,000 animals; it will require some one hundred and sixty wagons to transport rations for the men; besides those used for regimental purposes and for ordnance and medical stores. I can command, I think, about two hundred wagons now, and may be able to get who hundred more within a fortnight. With these I could start, but they would not enable me to proceed by Niblett's Bluff to Alexandria, which is some 160 miles, without supplies.
I think it is better to march all through Texas to Sabine Town or Burr's Ferry, and then make as rapid a march as possible to join General Taylor in Red River Valley, where supplies can be had.
Some of the State troops have refused to cross the frontier, even to do picket duty. They may refuse to go to the Red River. I think they will. This will leave me but a handful of men to spare, and if I dismount them they certainly will not go.
I leave Texas not only open to attack by sea, but also the railroads at Houston exposed to attack by Niblett's Bluff. Nevertheless, I am so convinced that the enemy ought to be attacked on Red River before that river rises, that I am making every exertion, and will continue to do so, to overcome these difficulties. First, I will command the troops in the field myself, and I think I can induce them to follow me; secondly, I have been fortifying Niblett's Bluff for some time, and have been establishing depots en route to Burr's Ferry and Sabine Town, in anticipation of the present state of things.
I find great delays have occurred in the execution of my orders in the movement of troops, artillery, and cavalry from the west, and one of the objects of my visit here was to hurry on these troops and the expected arms and ammunition, and to find out why orders given and repeated six weeks ago have not been received. I am informed here by Captain [G. W.] Chilton, of Brigadier-General Bee's staff, that the enrolling officer of conscripts at Goliad had arrested 3 of my couriers, whom I had exempted from molestation, and send them to their regiments, and permitted their horses and the mails containing my orders to remain at Goliad, and that this was done by authority of Colonel Ford, superintendent of conscripts, and after the attention of the conscript officer had been called especially to my order, herewith inclosed,* protecting these men from detention or interference. These are the men, soldiers in the service of the contractor for running my express, and under the control of Captain [C. C.] Clute, superintendent of expresses. I have ordered the conscript officer to be arrested, and have reported the arrest to Colonel Ford, as I have no guarantee that he will not continue to arrest my couriers. Every conscript officer who interrupts my line of couriers, in disobedience of my orders, will be immediately arrested, as I cannot have communications cut off with my troops on any ground whatever. I have no doubt that Colonel Ford, who is a good officer, has been misinformed on this sub-