I have now a very efficient naval force, which has been improvised by my energetic naval officers, and could co-operate with them in case of an attack on any of the blockading fleets off the coast.
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
HDQRS. DIST. OF TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA,
December 27, 1863.
Captains SEMMES AND MAFFITT:
SIRS: I beg leave most respectfully to suggest that you should visit the Gulf of Mexico with your fine vessel, aided by several others, if possible. The enemy are now threatening this department sith a formidable invasion by land and sea. Their transports are traversing the Gulf from Sabine to the Rio Grande, loaded with troops and supplies of every character. There has been no more favorable opportunity presented since the war for our navy to inflict serious injury upon the enemy, and at the same time make it profitable in the way of prize-money.
It would also act as a diversion in our favor could you appear off our coast, and enable me to operate favorably with the vessels I have improvised as gunboats. Should the enemy determine upon occupying Texas, they will be necessarily forced to bring their re-enforcements, together with all supplies, ordnance stores, &c., by sea, thereby presenting a fine field of service for your great skill and determined energy.
We have every reason to believe that the enemy have no iron-clads whatever upon our coast, and thus their entire fleet might fall an easy prey to your known prowess.
I trust, captain, these suggestions will receive your favorable consideration, and that we may soon have the pleasure of listening to the booming of your guns, resulting as favorably as in the case of the Hatteras. The ports of Sabine, Galveston, Velasco, &c., would be open to you, where your prize vessels could be sent in and disposed of at very high rates. Cotton in abundance could then be procured, and shipped to points where supplies are to be had for the use of the Confederacy. I feel assured thus with your co-operation we could repossess ourselves of Brownsville, and every other point in this department that the enemy may now occupy, driving him from the soil of Texas, beaten and disgraced.
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
December 27, 1863
Colonel JAMES DUFF:
COLONEL: I am instructed by Major-General Magruder to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of December 26, &c., 4.30 and 8.30 p.m. The orders directing you to move your command, excepting two companies of State troops, east of the Colorado, should the enemy land at Tres Palacios, or any point on Matagorda Bay between that place and Matagorda, are, of course, under the present circumstances, not to be carried out. Your forces will be held sufficiently near the enemy to be thrown by you to any part to prevent his advance beyond