War of the Rebellion: Serial 042 Page 0378 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX.

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ject. At all events, I cannot have my orders disregarded by any officer serving in my district. I am responsible for my acts to my superiors in rank or to a court, but all inferiors in rank to me must obey my orders or they shall be arrested. I should refer this case to Colonel Ford, but cannot afford the time, as the conscript officer, if allowed to remain in the discharge of his duties, may, and probably will, interfere again with my couriers, since both he and, as I am informed, Colonel Ford disregard my orders altogether. I do not claim the right to give any orders in regard to conscripts, and have ordered a report in every case to be made to department headquarters; but when I do think proper to give orders (as in the case of my couriers), my orders must be obeyed by my inferiors in rank whilst I am responsible for them to those who are superior in rank to me. The injury to the public service done by this interference is very great. I lose the services of two batteries of artillery and a battalion of cavalry.

I know that it is the purpose of the commanding general of this department to strengthen my hands, rather than weaken them, as he is well aware of the difficulty of having orders obeyed in this district, and of my disposition to obey, as well as to make others do so.*


Bonham, Tex., November 1, 1863.


Assistant Adjutant-General:

CAPTAIN: Since receiving orders to send the troops to Houston, I have given the subject much thought, and though I have ordered the troops to move as early as possible-which will be to leave here on Thursday morning, and the quartermaster to strain every nerve in getting up the necessary transportation-I am not willing to see them go without informing the major-general of the effect that their withdrawal may have upon the country, and indicate to him that, as a military movement, nothing can justify it, in my judgment, under the circumstances, but the clearly defined fact that he is certainly and utterly unable to hold the enemy in check without them, and that one section of the country must be sacrificed to save the other, or any of it.

In order to give the general any reason for this opinion, it is necessary to refer to the true condition of General Steele's command, which is simply on outpost. His Indian force is a thing to be counted when ration are issued and pay-day comes; but all, General Cooper included, agree that it is totally unreliable, except when strongly sustained by white troops, and only partially reliable when that is done. Then we must look to the white troops as the only force to keep the enemy from moving on us.

This force, as I understand it, with [James] Bourland, now on the frontier, upon which the Indians have been killing and stealing in his absence, consists of Gurley's regiment, part deserted; Hardeman's regiment [Arizona Brigade], short one or two companies, part deserted; Showalter's battalion, Baird's battalion, both of which would not make a full battalion; De Morse's regiment, large part deserted, and Bass' regiment (nine companies), part deserted, making in all, effective men,


*This communication, as recorded in Letters-Scut Book, in unsigned, and it is there marked "Not sent;" but see Smith (per Boggs) to Magruder, November 6, p. 393.