Of volunteers, unattached companies, or parts of companies not mustered into the Confederate service, militia, &c., a force of some 1,000 men can be raised. Governor Murrah is exceedingly anxious for the recapture of the Lower Rio Grande, and I have assurances that he will allow us to use at least four companies of the Frontier Regiment. He will furnish all the arms and ammunition he can spare, and will turn over a howitzer and ammunition to us.
The people are fully aroused, and have advanced means and articles as outfits for volunteers. Many of the volunteers have good arms, serviceable horses, pack-mules, and are equipped for efficient service, and in some instances these things have been furnished entirely by voluntary contributions. Would it be right to dampen this ardor and repel these advances at a perilous time, when the country needs aid so much?
There is no doubt of success. The results from an expulsion of the Yankees from the Rio Grande would be almost equal to those following the recapture of Galveston.
It is the desire of all parties for the major-general commanding to direct the matter and give the enterprise his countenance. Should he decline, Governor Murrah will feel compelled, by a sense of duty, and as a means of protecting the interests of the State, to place the expedition under his own auspices.
In addition to the troops already mentioned it would be desirable to have Lieutenant-Colonel Dickinson's co-operation, in charge of five or six companies. The forces indicated, added to those of Colonel Benavides, would be able to resist successfully any attack from the Yankees.
The forces would be so raised as not to materially interfere with the commands of officers as arranged by General Orders, Numbers 217, of December 15, 1863.
They could be called "expeditionary forces." I have called upon the people to turn out, and they are doing so, but I have been actuated by a desire to promote the public interests and not to subserve any personal end. I have asked for the approval of the major-general commanding, and up to the present he has not indicated his pleasure. I most respectfully request an early answer per courier. I should visit headquarters in person but for the feeble state of my health.
I have the honor to be, your very obedient servant,
JOHN S. FORD.
HDQRS. TRANS-MISS., DEPT., OFFICE OF COTTON BUREAU,
Shreveport, La., December 26, 1863.
Honorable C. G. MEMMINGER: Richmond, Va.:
A copy of your letter to Lieutenant-General Smith, desiring a report from this office as to the produce loan, was shown me yesterday, on my return from Texas.
The order assigning me to duty as chief of the cotton bureau was issued in August last without consulting me, and at a time when I was in another part of the country.
When I reported here, the general had not determined upon any distinct policy in reference to the cotton interests of his department, but directed me to obtain information, give the subject reflection, and submit my views to him.
I have found it difficult to get accurate statements as to the quantity purchased for account of the Government the disposition made of it, or the extent to which it had been destroyed. The purchases were prin-