The mouth of the Caney is four marches from here and the mouth of the Brazos is five. Had the force of 4,000 men which first arrived here immediately pressed forward, it is most likely the first on the mouth of the Brazos would have been in our possession at the end of six days, and the blow would have been a mortal one to the rebel cause; but to attempt that march now would be under very different circumstances. The whole force we have here now is not an equivalent for that which we then had, as estimated merely against numbers; and, in addition to this the march would be contested and resisted at several points by fortifications across a narrow defile, where the enemy has expended a great deal of labor and skill in successive lines of defense to stop a line approach, which, according to the information he has had, and judging from the demonstrations which have been he is convinced we had decided you. Magruder has a large cavalry force, and we have none; for want of it we cannot obtain information nor scout actively, and are unable to pursue and punish any of his prowlers or marauding parties. To commence active operations effectively we ought to have 3,000 good cavalry. We have little or no transportation and require 200 wagons and 50 ambulances. We are well supplied with subsistence at present, having on hand about thirty days'. We need much clothing, estimates of which have been sent, but we ought not to be hindered by another greatcoat, as we have now by some blunder about 3,000, and we have camp-kettles and mess-pans enough for a large army.
Ammunition should be immediately forwarded. I have approved an estimate of the ordnance officer to-day. I hope you will see it attended to; if not, I have not much faith in receiving it. We are very badly in want of wood for fuel, and a very great deal of suffering exists because of it; we are obliged to go 10 miles to pick up soggy and rotten driftwood on the beach, and the work is attended with great danger of capture. Every light vessel which comes down should bring a few cords of wood, proportioned to her size, the large steamers bringing 20 or 30 cords and the schooners 5 or 6, for the quartermaster's department for issue to the troops. I am not sure that it would be judicious to obtain our supplies direct from New York, if a class of vessels can be obtained which are light enough to come over this bar loaded andd are fast. I believe the change would be beneficial. We want boats here badly, and I have directed Captain Constable to call for twelve, four of which shall be life-boats. We require about 125 artillery horses for the batteries here.
I understand my orders now to be, according to verbal communications from Major-General Washburn and dispatches addressed to him by the commanding general, which were received by me by the Alabama, and from the tenor of your letters of the 12th instant, not to attempt offensive operations, but to strengthen and fortify myself here and at Indianola, awaiting an increase of force and cavalry. Expeditions may be made for short marches into the interior, without much risk, but they are not attended with beneficial results. I doubt the policy of occupying a place, inducing our friends to expose themselves to certain punishment by espousing our cause openly, and then by a hurried abandonment for the purpose of securing our communication from interruption leaving them to the mercy of the assassins who have never been known to show mercy. I could, as I believe, march to Victoria any day, and occupy it, but the line from Indianola there is 40 miles, and from Lavaca there 26 miles, and