knowing that his abilities as a strategist and tactician are equal to those which he has displayed as an engineer.
I have the honor, &c.,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
Major-General, Commanding, &c.
P. S. - There is a question whether Colonel Ford is an officer at all at this moment, and I am embarrassed in ordering officers to report to him lest they may legally decline doing so.
December 20, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel W. J. HUTCHINS,
Chief of Cotton Bureau:
COLONEL: I am instructed by the major-general commanding to direct the cotton bureau to provide for the prompt payment in cotton of all contracts for arms and ammunition made by him or his orders. So vital does he deem the maintenance of good faith in contracts of this nature, that I am instructed to say in his name that 30,000 stand of arms placed in his hands to-day would be cheaply paid for at the price of every pound of cotton in the State of Texas. He will transmit for the information of the cotton office copies of all the contracts for arms, &c., made by his order and not forfeited by contractors. There are but two, as far as he recollects-one with Mr. House, and one with Mr. Champlin. The latter has been permitted to take out some 200 or 300 bales of cotton already and if arms are not brought in soon, as a return cargo, the contract will be considered as virtually abrogated for non-fulfillment on the part of the contractor. Mr. House is fulfilling his contract handsomely.
Sixteen thousand Enfield rifles now at Vera Cruz have been released by the French Government, and are ours if we can pay for them and get them. We have contracted for them at the rate of 30 cents per pound for cotton specie value, delivered both arms and cotton at Brownsville. As neither arms nor cotton can be delivered at Brownsville, I presume some further arrangement or agreement must be made. I have authorized Mr. House to send to Vera Cruz for the arms, and make the best terms he can. They must be had, a s they are the only English Enfield rifles on this side of the Atlantic that can be had. The Enfield rifles just brought in by Mr. House are Spanish and not nearly so good. These arms from Vera Cruz, if we get them at all, will come in lots of about 1,000. They may cost as high as $60 each, but, cost what they may, we must have them.
The State of Texas and the whole Trans-Mississippi Department are in the greatest peril. Every other interest must yield to this paramount necessity, and I hope the cotton office will give me all their energies and all the aid in their power to accomplish the vital object of arming our people. There must be no delay and no obstacle of any nature interposed to protract or endanger the accomplishment of this purpose. At the present price of cotton and present value of our currency, it will require an immense amount of cotton to pay for these arms. I presume the price of cotton in specie at Houston is about 4 cents per pound; in our currency, about 40 cents.
The commanding general desires me to say in strict confidence to the