time since by way of Millican. If they have not reached you, you had better send down to meet them and hurry them up. You will place these in the hands of the best troops you have who may be without arms.
It is supposed that these arms will be safe in the hands of the deserters as long as they are retained in the Northern Sub-District for the protection of their homes, but should they be ordered down from the Northern Sub-District, you are cautioned, should these arms be turned over to them, to be particular that they do not desert with the arms in their hands.
The enemy is reliably reported to have landed 3,000 infantry, with very few cavalry, at Indianola. Colonel Dubb is personally in command in that vicinity, with his headquarters at Victoria or Texana and has made proper dispositions of his forces to prevent an invasion. The enemy's force on the coast is reported to be 25,000, and occupy a threatening attitude. Your present force, properly organized and made effective, it is believed will be amply sufficient to protect the frontier, and capture or annihilate the combined forces of the Federals, jayhawkers, Indians, &c.
Should it be ascertained that the invasion is not of so serious a nature or in such strong force as you have been informed, or should you expel their forces, you will proceed to carry out the instructions given you by Major-General Magruder in letter from these headquarters, dated December 25, 1863,* proceeding as rapidly as possible to Houston with De Morse's, Martin's, and the regiment of deserters, and reporting the time of your arrival at the important points on the route, such as Dallas, &c. You will retain Captain [John R.] Baylor's command until further orders.
EDMUND P. TURNER,
December 27, 1863.
CHARLES J. HELM, Agent Confederate States, Havana:
SIR: Inclosed please find two communications, one for Captain R. Semmes and the other for Captain J. N. Maffitt which I will be much obliged if you will forward with as little delay as possible.+
I have to claim your influence in procuring the assistance of one or more of our armed cruisers in the Gulf of Mexico, to destroy the enemy's war vessels, and transports which are daily plying between the port of New Orleans and the Texas coast. Never since the commencement of the war has a fairer-field presented, itself than that now offered in the Gulf for our cruisers. The enemy's war vessels are merchant steamers fitted up as blockaders, and their transports, steamers and sailing vessels are loaded with very valuable stores, which are much needed in the Confederacy. The ports of Sabine, Galveston, and Velasco offer safe harbors for the prizes, which can immediately be disposed of, and loaded with cotton and sent to the West Indies and Mexican ports for arms and other supplies which are now awaiting shipment to us.
With the co-operation of our armed cruisers, under their able and efficient commanders, I would be able to repossess myself of Brownsville and other ports in Texas now held by the enemy, and drive him, beaten and disgraced, from our shores.
*See p. 533.
+Duplicates forwarded to Mr. Helm, February 2, 1864
35 R R-VOL XXVI, PT II