route will have many advantages over the old, in being entirely safe from guerrilla parties and reducing land travel from 30 miles to 9. While transferring the depot from Point Isabel to Brazos Island, I would not recommend the vacation of the former place. It is a point higher than the surrounding country, upon which the lighthouse was constructed, and would, if vacated by us, be used as a lookout by the enemy, who could from there watch any movement. At the same time, during very severe storms, the route along Brazos Island would be subject to interruption, and we might be compelled to use the route via Point Isabel. I would suggest that works be constructed there, covering not only the rear, but also the bay, with reference to foreign troubles. For the present, I think a garrison of 200 sufficient to hold the place. As strong a work as can be constructed should at once be commenced on Brazos Island, covering the roadstead outside, the entrance to the harbor, and also the bay. This work should be completed with as little delay as possible, and kept in good repair by a permanent garrison.
There is at present a small work on the island, mounting two 30-pounder Parrotts. The new work should have, in addition to these, at least eight more guns, 32-pounder howitzers. At Point Isabel there are mounted two 30-pounder Parrotts, and I would recommend an addition of at least two 24-pounder smooth. For the work on Brazos Island it will require 100 men to keep it in proper repair. When the new route is opened along the island it will be necessary to establish some troops at the mouth of the Rio Grande, say 150 men, to handle supplies and perform guard duty. This will leave about 200 men at the depot on the Brazos for duty in the quartermaster's department unloading ships and handling supplies. Thus, while the forces at these points are sufficient at the present time by keeping them constantly at work, I do not see how they could be reduced without weakening the positions too much and at the same time interfering with the forwarding of supplies for Brownsville. I am decidedly of the opinion that the force now there should be increased, until the works at Point Isabel and Brazos are completed. In regard to Fort Montgomery, the new work above Brownsville, I would recommend that at least six more guns, 24-pounders and 32-pounders, be sent forward to mount in it.
The repair of old Fort Brown should also be commenced in accordance with your personal suggestion of to-day. There are no outposts held as such by us north or northwest of this place, cavalry scouts answering the purpose much better than a permanent post, on account of the difficulty of getting forage and subsistence at any point above Brownsville. At least 400 of the cavalry are kept out on scouting service all the time. The cavalry number 849 effective men, with but 650 horses, the purchase of stock having been stopped by me on account of the scarcity of forage. As soon as proper supplies come forward the balance of the command could be mounted in a very short time. Very fair horses can be bought for from $40 to $45 in gold, or $60 to $65 in Treasury notes. These horses are not as good as Northern stock, but will go through a reasonable campaign, and, in my opinion, will answer very well for this cavalry, which is in fact mounted infantry rather than cavalry. Thus far it has been difficult to keep up the stock on account of the negligence of the proper authorities in not sending forward supplies.
Requisitions have been made for large amounts, and an officer will go to New Orleans by the first steamer to hurry up a sixty days'