HOUSTON, TEX., January 1, 1864.
Major J. P. JOHNSON,
Assistant Inspector-General, Houston, Tex.:
MAJOR: In compliance with your request, I have the honor to submit the following views in regard to the commercial relations between the Confederate States and the Mexican States bordering on the Rio Grande, with such suggestions as I deem expedient to enable the Government to introduce supplies and export cotton across said river:
By reference to my official report to the assistant adjutant-general of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, a copy of which I herewith inclose by your request,* you will see the object I had in view in remaining at Matamoras after the evacuation of Fort Brown by our troops, and the reasons why I deemed it necessary to go to Monterey.
On my arrival at the latter place, I had the pleasure of meeting our agent, Mr. J. A. Qinterro, who introduced me to General Vidaurri, Governor of the States of Nuevo Leon and Cohahuila. He is a gentleman of liberal and extended views, and comprehended at once the great advantages resulting to his States by a continuance of the trade between Texas and Mexico, via Eagle Pass or Piedras Negras, the only port on the Rio Grande where trade can be carried on with safety as long as Brownsville is in possession of the enemy. The Governor is largely interested in a commercial house, and remarked that, in addition to the interest he felt in the success of our cause, and the benefits that his States would derive, his individual interests were sufficient to induce him to extend us every facility and all the protection in his power. He has issued orders prohibiting renegades from the Confederacy from remaining on the border or crossing the Rio Grande without permission from our authorities, and said he would send an additional military force to see that these orders were enforced, and to protect our property in transit. My principal object in seeking an interview with Governor Vidaurri was to see what arrangement could be made in regard to the tariff on goods in transit through his States, so as to determine the practicability of introducing our supplies via Eagle Pass.
You are perhaps aware that the Mexican revenue laws protect every article manufactured within the Republic by imposing a tariff amounting to a prohibition. For instance, on hats the duty is &2.68, regardless of cost, which would render the procurement of this article through Mexico impracticable, and hence rendered a compromise necessary. After a lengthy and thorough discussion of this question with the Governor and Mr. Sombrauno, collector of customs, it was agreed between us that all goods in transit destined for Texas should not be subject to a tax exceeding 25 per cent., or one-fourth the established revenue, and that, if the trade would justify it, a further reduction should be made. Regarding this a favorable compromise for the Government, and the best that could be made under the circumstances, I ordered the supplies that were then at Matamoras intended for the army to be forwarded to Eagle Pass immediately.
Matamoras being in a state of revolution, we may be subject to a forced tax, but Governor Vidaurri assured me he would do all that he could to prevent it, and that it could not continue but a short time, as the General Government had ordered troops to suppress the rebellion, and that the French would occupy it in a short time, even should the Mexican Government fail. I also feel authorized to say that upon the occupation of the Rio Grande by the French, Governor Vidaurri will be placed