HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TEXAS, &C.,
Camp Wharton, [December 25, 1863.]
Colonel JAMES DUFF,
COLONEL: The major-general commanding directs me to instruct you to destroy the railroad without delay burning all the ties, and that you remain at Texana.
Intelligence received by Major-General Magruder states that Banks is fitting out a large number of sailing vessels-it is stated in the New Orleans papers-and that he intends landing somewhere in Matagorda Bay, perhaps at Matagorda or Tres Palacios; should he do so, leaving two companies of State cavalry to watch the coast at Lavaca, Indianola, &c., bring all the troops of your command east of the Colorado by the best road your scouts will inform you is safe to travel, so as to secure a junction with this portion of the army.
Should the enemy, on the contrary, land at Indianola, or farther west, retain your position keeping your troops in close observation, and forward information by rapid express. In the case first mentioned, remove expresses from Columbia to San Antonio to a safer line, if you think that by Elliott's Ferry in dangerous proximity to the enemy. The pickets at Tres Palacios have orders to send you information as well as to these headquarters; those at Matagorda will be similarly instructed.
The enemy still threaten to march up the peninsula by the beach. he major-general commanding desires me to say that he is fortifying the mouths of Caney and Bernard,. so that he may move to the west should his presence there become necessary, leaving sufficient force here to detain the enemy at those points.
Since writing the above, your very clear report informing the major-general of the landing of the enemy at Indianola has been received; it may be a feint, as you remark. The general commanding direct me to say that he will continue pushing on the fortifications though the progress is slow, owing to the tardiness of planters in supplying force and a want of implements. He has sent to Houston for 173 hands, who have 173 tools. A vessel has arrived with 200 men.
I am directed by the major-general commanding to say that your course in moving your troops to close observation of the movements of the enemy is approved. He directs that you still retain Texana as your station, as he is satisfied from the very few blockading vessels off Galveston, their increase in number off Saluria, and the lack of transportation of the enemy, that their movements will be made along the coast.
C. M. MASON,
Captain, and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
SAN ANTONIO, TEX.,
December 25, 1863.
Captain EDMUND P. TURNER,
Asst. Adjt. General, C. S. Army, Hdqrs. Major-General Magruder:
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit to the major-general commanding the following suggestions concerning the expedition to the Rio Grande:
A large proportion of the men who are volunteering are not subject to conscription and will not go into service for any other purpose. If the expedition should not be made, they will remain at home, and their services will be lost to the country.