make a sudden dash upon Freeport, and capture the enemy's cannon, and, if I cannot bring them off, render them useless.
If I do not succeed in driving the enemy from Brownsville, I shall throw my whole force between him and Point Isabel, occupying the chaparral skirting Palo Alto prairie, holding the roads from Point Isabel, Brazos Santiago, and Corpus Christi, and commanding the river. In this way I can prevent a junction of his forces, and confine him to his lines. This interior position will enable me to engage and beat him in detail. In order to prevent his using the river, I shall have to have artillery and should be much pleased to have a long-range gun or two.
When I reach the neighborhood of the Rio Grande, I shall receive re-enforcements from the other bank. Among them will be men thoroughly posted regarding the number, position, and intention of the enemy. I shall send Colonel H. Clay Davis to organize and have them ready. I shall send Colonel E. R. Horde to Captain King's ranch, to procure mules, pack-saddles, &c.
The question of subsistence will be of primary importance. Beef abounds upon the whole line, and can be driven from above on foot; breadstuffs will be scarce. I understand there are 500,000 pounds of flour at Fort McIntosh (Laredo). I shall direct Colonel Benavides to have it transported upon Mexican carts, if he can procure them, to Salt Lake or some point on the line of march.
I shall push forward every pound of flour I can control. It may be purchased in Mexico. Forage for the animals will be out of the question. I shall issue stake ropes to the men, and require every man to tie his horse securely when not on the march. If specie could be had, it would be a good idea to send an assistant quartermaster to Laredo to purchase corn there, at Guerrero, Camargo, &c., for the command.
I shall use every effort to keep the object of the expedition entirely secret and shall get the editor of the Herald to intimate that it is intended for Indianola. I would respectfully request the major-general commanding to allow Lieutenant-Colonel Dickinson to co-operate with me. I shall have no one else near me whom I feel has the confidence, and would, in the same degree, represent the views and wishes of the major-general commanding. Entertaining these ideas, I respectfully suggest that his presence would add materially to the chances of success.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
[JOHN S. FORD.]
December 27, 1863
Brigadier General HENRY E. McCULLOCH,
Commanding Sub-District, Bonham:
I am instructed by Major-General Magruder to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of 22nd instant, announcing the invasion of the State and the occupation of Gainesville on the 22nd instant by the enemy. In view of this invasion, the orders given you on the 25th instant, to proceed to Houston via Millican with De Morse's and Martin's regiments and the regiment of deserters, are suspended. You will remain with these troops in the Northern Sub-District, and will place them on a good footing to meet the enemy and these bands of jayhawkers, and capture them or expel them from the country.
You will organize the deserters as rapidly as possible; the 300 arms (about 270 Texas rifles, others assorted) were sent forward to you some