where I have to-day ordered the Sixteenth Ohio Battery and one 30-pounder of Battery L, [First] Indiana. I have taken the brigade from Matagorda Island, and now have all the white troops at this pass now stationed on the peninsula under command of Ransom, Fort Esperanza is garrisoned by the Fourteenth Rhode Island Heavy Artillery and seven companies of the Second Engineers, Corps d'Afrique, under command of Colonel Cobb. The forces at Indianola are under the immediate command of General Benton. I shall begin to fortify that place to a small extent.
I presume you have had access to my reports made heretofore to the major-general commanding the department, and are informed as to my views as to the disposition of the forces now on the Rio Grande;l they are of no effect now, but if needed on that frontier should be mostly posted near the Nueces River. If the cavalry force now there, which has been nursed and organized with much trouble and great cost of time, sent on a cotton hunt to Eagle Pass or that vicinity they will get cotton, but will make themselves unserviceable so far as the necessary and effective co-operation with this force is concerned.
All the cavalry there an the batteries of artillery and half the infantry should march across the country to co-operate with this column, forming a junction near Victoria. All the infantry which does not march across should land at Corpus Christi or Copana and unite with the column again near San Patricio or Refugio. A movement of this force would at the same time meet that movement and support it either by its operations on the east or west of Lavaca Bay toward Texana, Hallettsville, or Victoria. A discreet officer, either General Herron or some other general officer, who, by his management, would prevent misunderstandings with our neighbors and would resist and discountenance corruption and speculation, should be put in command on the Rio Grande, with a garrison of 500 men at Brownsville and 200 at Brazos Island.
As for the trade with Eagle Pass and Lavaca,the defeat of Magruder involves the entire regulation of all those matters, as well as the complete revolution of Texas. We must meet him in the open field and beat him, otherwise we are wasting our time and forces to little effect, in occupying a few scattered points, the possession of which are not contested. We can beat him by concentrating a superior force and not allowing him time for more preparations. If we defeat him in the first general action Texas is revolutionized, and a large portion of its men will join us and his army will dissolve. If we risk a campaign against him with an inferior force, we may beat him, but if he should defeat us, or even hold his own in the first general engagement then we might justly expect to engage in a long campaign before we regained our present influence over the wavering portion of the population, whose confidence would be greatly shaken. I do not speak of a march up this peninsula for I have no idea it will at the present time be entertained. I have been to the mouths of the Caney, San Bernard, and Brazos, where I occupied a day in reconnoitering and shelling and at each of which places the enemy has erected strong works which cover considerable ground. He is evidently in force in that neighborhood and has several steam-boats, three of which I saw carrying supplies on his inland waters. Some of these boats are "cotton-clad," and one, the Carr, was lately supposed to have been destroyed. I have reason to suppose this is not so, or to believe the Carr still in order.