I inclose a certified copy of the authority under which Captain Cummings' company was raised;* it was issued when Major- General Magruder was himself in Brownsville, and was done under his direct authority. In justification of my action, I beg leave to refer generally to the course I have pursued on the Rio Grande, without forwarding the copies of the correspondence on the subject with General Hebert and General Magruder, as I write in the field without the records of my office.
I was specially assigned by the President to the command of the Rio Grande, doubtless from the fact of my long residence there and general acquaintance with the people. I received from General Hibert discretionary powers to act in all things as my judgment might dictate. The question of enforcing the conscript law on the Rio Grande very soon came up. I was certain that it could not be enforced there, and that it was not good policy to attempt it, for there would be but one result- that the conscript would desert to Mexico, and probably carry his arms and other Government property with him, whereas if a different course was pursued, I believe that an available auxiliary force would be ready when called for. These views were submitted to those in authority in this district, approved, and acted on.
I found no difficulty in using the citizens of that section for any local service I required, and in many instances valuable service was rendered. The enforcement of the conscript act was, therefore, suspended, with the full knowledge of the commanding general and the chief enrolling officer of conscripts, for the good of the service and sound public policy. When the State troops were called out and a draft ordered, the attempt to enforce it not only failed, but caused bad feeling and a protest from the Mexican authorities, who claimed, and justly, I think, that under the treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo citizens of Mexico in that territory were not liable to forced military service.
The laws of the State of Texas compelled a resident of ten days to do military duty, and, in my position, I suspended the State law. It was but a short time afterward when the enemy landed, and there being no Confederate force to strengthen the well disposed and overawe the evil, the fabric feel to the ground. I acted under implied or expressed orders while on the Rio Grande, and always in accordance with my best judgment.
Issued orders to Lieutenant William Neale because he was one of my officers, appointed by me to enroll conscripts for Cummings' company. He never had andy other authority, and I did not know he had sought instructions from any other source. The whole matter was local and for the purpose of raising the company. Mr. McAllen was the enrolling officer of Cameron County, but never acted.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
H. P. BEE,
Brigadier- General, Provisional Army.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, ARMY OF TEXAS,
Victoria, Tex., December 4, 1863- 1 p. m.
Captain EDMUND P. TURNER,
Assistant Adjutant- General:
SIR: I have the honor to inclose the dispatches just in from Lavaca,* from which it be seen that the enemy have not left Saluria. I have