Huntsville than that the penitentiary is used as a manufactory of clothing material for the use of the army. The use of the buildings as a place of confinement for political criminals, or for Federal officers taken prisoners will not add to these inducements; and, besides, military campaigns of the magnitude required to reach the heart of a country defended by such an army as now surrounds me are not undertaken for such reasons. Huntsville is situated in a section of country so remote from present danger that I shall be disappointed in my expectations if the enemy do not find anything short of a very protracted war and a much larger army than that which now threatens us unequal to the accomplishment of its capture.
I trust, therefore, that you will give such instructions as are necessary to secure the use of the penitentiary for the purpose mentioned, believing that the moral effect produced by this course will deter many from engaging in these nefarious plots against the peace of the country and the success of the cause in which we have embarked our all.
I have the honor, &c.,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C.,
McNeel's Plantation, December 21, 1863.
JAMES SORLEY, Esq.
DEAR SIR: Your letter is before me. The position of the enemy is such that I cannot with any regard to the interest of the community and Government intrusted to my care (and for which I alone am responsible, until I can receive orders from my official superiors), permit the indiscriminate exportation of cotton, as it would surely fall into the hands of the enemy, or at least there is so great a probability of it that it should not be attempted. There is no conflict of orders, and no disregard of department orders, for whenever in my judgment the movements of the enemy make the execution of an order of my own, or of my superior officer when at a distance, dangerous to the very interest those orders were intended to protect, it is equally my duty to revoke my own order as it is to disregard those of my superior until he can be heard from.
The advance of the enemy up the Rio Grande was believed by me, and correctly, since I have received information from Major Dickinson of his farther advance. I know the military state of the country, and know that no cotton, under present circumstances, should be moved beyond the Colorado. All ordnance stores from San Antonio, are being brought east of the Colorado for safety from San Antonio, excepting small quantities for immediate use.
The trade via Eagle Pass is at present exposed. I may be able, and am doing my best consistently with a regard to still more vital interests, to protect this trade, but it will take time to effect this, even if it can be done at all. In the meantime it would be madness to permit the people to take their cotton to San Antonio or Eagle Pass; and I did not suppose the cotton bureau would like to put cotton under their charge in a position where the law would require me to have it burned.
Major Hart and the niter bureau have been sending cotton for a long time via Eagle Pass to Monterey, and by Mexican transportation, as I