(whose posts and places ought to be changed each day), you will, about dusk every evening, send out a few mounted vedettes half a mile beyond them, to keep a lookout by moving around occasionally, and who will come in at daylight, and their place be supplied in the daytime by a small mounted patrol, which will move about the front a few times each day. A lookout will constantly be kept at the signal station on the top of the house, to notify you the moment a force is seen approaching, and to keep you advised of what is going on in your front at a distance of 2 or 3 miles, and your whole command will be kept constantly on the alert, and ready to be turned out under arms at a moment's notice. In the defense of a place like Indianola there are many arrangements which can be made, such as obstructions to cavalry like troops des coups, crows-feet ditches, &c., which readily suggest themselves to the ingenuities of a commanding officer, and which cannot be specified in written instructions. I rely on your activity and industry to make your post perfectly defensible by a small garrison-say 1,500 men, probably-against a large force.
In addition to the company of the Second Engineers, Corps d'Afrique, which has for some days been under orders to report to you, another company of the same regiment will be sent you. These companies are to work in entrenchments and such other work in their proper sphere as may be required of them. From reports I have heard of them their work heretofore has lagged so much as to discredit their officers. I rely on you to discipline and control the officers so that they shall work them more than full quantity. I have also ordered another of the 30-pounder Parrott guns to report to you. No report has as yet been received here relating to the capture of the 5 men of whom you spoke yesterday. I wish you would inquire into this and have a duplicate sent. I have ordered that all dispatches from here to you shall be sent by an orderly or a staff officer, and you will make the same arrangement.
I have the honor to remain, with respect,
N. J. T. DANA,
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Matagorda Peninsula, Tex., January 25, 1864
Lieutenant Colonel W. B. SCATES,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Thirteenth Army Corps:
Since my second visit to Indianola, and the information now received and which takes me by surprise, that I am to fortify and hold myself strictly on the defensive, and that some of my troops will be taken away. I feel more than ever the need of a competent officer of engineers. There is not an officer in this whole command who knows anything about fortifications and keeping engineer troops properly at their tasks. The civil engineer whom Major Houstoin has here is entirely incompetent as a military engineer to plan fortifications and work men on them so as to get a half task out of them; he is competent as a topographer and draughtsman, but is slow, and is reported as being too fond of whisky. I hope a competent officer will be at once sent.
N. J. T. DANA