with his life by the interposition of friends; on the other hand, the Benavides' companies are true to their flag. I have a dispatch from the gallant Major Santors Benavides, dated the 6th, at Ringgold Barracks. He told his men that the enemy had landed, and that those who did not wish to fight for the Confederacy would receive a discharge, with his thanks for their services up to that time. The answer was, "Viva la Confederacion, viva Major Benavides!" Not a man left him. This has given me great satisfaction, and does not surprise me. We now have a gallant, influential leader, who will be of immense service. He writes me that he is awaiting orders, and, if none come, he will fight a guerrilla war to the last.
The news from Matamoras is that Cortina had seized Governor ruiz and all his party, and had them prisoners, but I did not learn for what party he had pronounced. To sum up, there is anarchy and confusion on both sides of the river, and the Federals unable to move for some time to come. This gives us time to contemplate our position.
So soon as I found that the Benavides' companies were faithful, I ordered all the cotton in the vicinity to Laredo, which is not more than 120 miles from here, over a good road, and have written to my friends there on both sides of the river to see that it is passed rapidly.
I have also written to Governor vidaurri, and asked his prompt action in protecting the trade through Piedras Negras, opposite Eagle Pass; his people, and assured him that it would take some time for the enemy to take Eagle Pass from us. I know that his feelings are with us, and believe that his interests will induce him to do all that he can.
I again renew my suggestion that I be furnished from 1,000 to 2,000 cavalry, the Thirty-third being one of them, that I may have the benefit of Colonel Duff's military experience.
The more I contemplate the value of this stock country to us, the more valuable does it seem to be to the enemy. For instance, there are 20,000 head of cattle on this ranch and 3,000 horses. The former cannot be moved, and where can the latter be moved to? It will be months before the enemy can operate against us, yet, through their influence and in their name, all the vagrant population of both sides of the river can soon be in the saddle to destroy the ranches, drive the beef-cattle to supply the great wants of the enemy in New Orleans, and take the horses for service against us.
A strong force (which I hope can be spared, as the danger of invasion from Louisiana does not seem imminent) can check these predatory bands and protect the trade to Eagle Pass until spring.
I would also suggest that no more cotton on private account shall be exported; that all permits or exemptions to contractors of any kind be annulled, and that the Government avail itself of all cotton now on the road, for if troops are kept on this frontier this winter they must have specie to pay for their supplies. At the most, we have two or three months within which we can have the advantage of the cotton trade. I would suggest that it be used to the fullest extent.
It will probably be said that I evacuated Fort Brown too soon, as the enemy did not come for several hours after I left, but I relied on the report of one of my most valuable officers, and realized all around me the elements of danger, which I was powerless to meet and have any hope to save my train.
The trains have arrived safely, and will be ready to resume their march to Houston, should the general commanding still desire that they should proceed.