War of the Rebellion: Serial 042 Page 0521 Chapter XXXVIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

am informed, and I thought they might possibly explain to me that cotton thus intrusted in Mexican hands, and perhaps being allowed as Mexican property, might be uninterrupted by the enemy. If so, they might, after learning my views, take the risk and responsibility. I have not the least objection to the cotton bureau using the railroads, particularly in transporting cotton from the coast, so long as such use does not interfere with the transportation of troops and army supplies. It has been a standing order of mine for some months past, prohibiting the transportation of any private cotton (except that paid for supplies) on railroads, as I found my horses and men nearly starving because a great part of the means of transportation was being used for private purposes, and supplies for the army neglected, and my quartermaster reported it to me and proved it. I prefer making Major Hart, the niter reported it to me and proved it. I prefer making Major Hart, the niter bureau, and our cotton bureau and exemption to this order, under the above-mentioned restrictions, and send you an order to that effect. Troops and army supplies must be transported first, and, when there are none to transport, all the transportation will be at the service of the bureau; but I shall have agents to see that the army is served first. Cotton coming from Louisiana will also be allowed, under same restrictions, to be transported.d

On the subject of arms, I must say that the safety of the country demands them at any sacrifice, and that no time is to be lost. I have thousands of men entirely unarmed. I have bought, and am distributing to the troops, 300 stand of arms, powder, &c., from Mr. House, and I have given an order on the cotton bureau for cotton with which to pay for these necessaries. I am facing the enemy, and the arms, &c., will be in the hands of the men to-morrow.

Your operations at present ought, in my opinion, to be confined almost exclusively to the procurement of arms, without a loss of a moment. So great is the need, that all the cotton in Texas would speedily be sold to-morrow by the Government for 30,000 stand of arms and their appropriate ammunition. We can exist without other things, but cannot without arms. Twenty-five thousand men are reported to-day on the Matagorda Peninsula. This may be somewhat exaggerated, but I sent there two staff officers with a flag of truce, and nine days since there were 12,000 sight. We have a ship each day, and sometimes two, passing loaded with troops, so that there can be no great exaggeration.

I am disposed to give you the most cordial support, but I earnestly hope you will not suffer any feelings of mercantile pride or considerations of economy to prevent your carrying into effect, as far as you possibly can, any arrangements which I make to procure arms and ammunition. With all else you can do as you please. Through the skill and perseverance of Captain De Ponte, one of my agents, the French have released 16,000 stand of Enfield rifles, which are now at Vera Cruz, subject to my order, if I can pay for them and get them in . Mr. House has shown more enterprise and fidelity combined than any other person I know of, and I have made an arrangement with him, which he will explain and show you on meeting, by which I hope to accomplish this. It will take a great deal of cotton, but a prompt acquiescence and cordial support on your part will secure the arms, or at least a portion of them, with as little loss of time as possible. If the arms come, we pay heavily for them; if they do not reach us, we lose nothing.

I understand that the bureau has exempted the negroes of planters from impressment, as well as granted exemption from military service. This, I think, is a mistake; but if it is so, I beg that such exemption may be revoked, as its exercise would deprive me of a portion of the