were physical obstacles preventing the maintenance of a force adequate to its defense.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
November 13, 1863.
Major General J. B. MAGRUDER:
SIR: As I was ordered here to make my knowledge of the country available to you in the public service, I beg leave to offer a suggestion in reference to General Orders, Numbers 196, requiring the State troops to work on the roads. There is now, I believe, a considerable body of these troops stationed at Smithfield, on Trinity River, about 40 miles north of your railroad line, and one of the State officers told me that he contemplated placing a large body of cavalry at Cold Spring, about 46 miles from the railroad. Between the Smithfield, troops and the railroad is Menard Creek, impassable during every season of high water. Some years ago a bridge was built on it, I think by the county court, arranged to stand. It was swept away this year, and the planters, from the wreck, made a temporary bridge, which will go with the first rise. The Cold Spring troops are cut off in the same way by Luke's or Luces Bayou, which is sometimes impassal before two weeks at a time. So, with each farther remove of these troops from your railroad line, they pass other creeks and lines of road by which they are liable to be cut off in season of rains in high water. I therefore respectfully suggest for your consideration whether it would not be better so to modify the order mentioned as to require each detachment of State troops sent into the interior to build all bridges and do all work on roads necessary to keep their communication with your railroad line uninterrupted in any state of the weather and at every season. Independently of military considerations, this will be an important benefit to the people of the country, and may tend in some degree to reconcile them to the losses and sacrifices which the war has brought on them.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., November 13, 1863.
Major General RICHARD TAYLOR:
GENERAL: Your communication of November 8 has been received, and in reply the lieutenant-general commanding directs me to inform you that he is in receipt of a communication from Major-General Magruder relative to the occupation of Bronwsville by the enemy. A copy of this letter is inclosed for your information.*
This movement would argue that he has not entirely abandoned the designs on Texas, and hence it is suggested that unless you are fully assured that the enemy have left the Bay for New Orleans, great caution should be observed in the disposition of your force, so as not to commit yourself too far in the direction of the Mississippi River.
*See letter of November 10, 1863, p. 403.