War of the Rebellion: Serial 062 Page 0296 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.

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from Matamoras. The defenses of Bronwsville consist of a series of small redoubts, connected by strong rifle-pits, extending across a peninsula just above the town. A map* forwarded with this report will more fully explain them. These works are constructed of sand, and, although not as strong as could be wished, would nevertheless enable the garrison to make a stout defense. They mount at the present time three guns, two 20-pounder Parrotts and one 24, smooth.

There would be strong inducements for the rebels to attack this post if weakened, for the following reasons: Before the occupation of Brownsville by the Federal troops this was the main crossing for cotton from Texas to Mexico, and for passing goods back. Since our arrival here they have been forced to cross at Eagle Pass,- miles north, but within the past two weeks Vidauri, governor of the States of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, has been seizing all cotton crossed into his States for an old debt due from the Confederate Government to citizens of Monterey, and principally to one Milmo, his son-in-law. This action has, of course, made the blockade of the Rio Grande complete. Most of the rebel officers in Texas are directly interested in the cotton now awaiting shipment to Mexico, and will not hesitate to use their troops to get it over if that will do it. If passed into the States of Nuevo Leon or Coahuila, it will be seized, and the only State left to them is Tamaulipas.

There is no point above Brownsville that they could cross into Tamaulipas without subjecting themselves to attack from us, and therefore it would be just as well for them to open the route through Brownsville if possible. So great is the pecuniary interest of the Governor of Texas and the military officers in this matter that 2,500 troops can be had for such a purpose whenever necessary, and whenever that number of troops can accomplish it. A majority of the merchants in Matamoras have large amounts due them from these same cotton operators, and are therefore anxious to have some means devised for getting the cotton through, and will furnish both money and arms for the purpose. One merchant, Belden, has already sent a large number of pistols to Colonel Benavides, at Laredo, and the clique to which he belongs confidently assert that Ford will have this place within forty days. I inclose as part of this report a letter* from Mr. Kimmey, vice-consul at Monterey, touching on this subject.

In addition to the troops mentioned above, I have two regiments of colored troops, the First Engineers and Sixteenth Infantry, Corps d'Afrique, stationed at Point Isabel and on Brazos Island. The First Engineers consists of eight companies, total effective, 250, and the Sixteenth Infantry, 382; in all, 632 men. The command is doing garrison duty at the places spoken of, and also does the loading and unloading of supplies. The importance of keeping a good garrison at these points cannot be overestimated, as Brazos is the only good harbor within 150 miles either side of the Rio Grande. Before the war all goods and supplies for Brownsville, Matamoras, and the entire Rio Grande Valley were entered at Brazos. The depth of water on Brazos Bar is 9 feet; at the mouth of the Rio Grande, 2 1/2 feet. The distance from Brazos to Brownsville is 32 miles, and the communication is at present by way of Point Isabel.

This will soon be changed and new route opened along Brazos Island, crossing Boca Chica, thence to the mouth of the river, where goods will be reshipped on steam-boats for Brownsville. The new


*Not found.