needed for the works on this bay. The citizen, Mr. Baker, was unfit for such duty, throwing away labor in ridiculous, untenable earth pens. I ordered him to report to Major Houston.
The troops at the points on this bay are in fine health and condition, and General Dana reports that--
The want of cavalry to keep the enemy's mounted force from my communications and the fear of an order to abandon our friends at those places and the adjoining districts have alone prevented my occupying Victoria and Texana and from collecting all that there is between the Guadalupe and Colorado Rivers.
I visited the force (one regiment, the Twentieth Iowa Infantry, and two small companies Corps d'Afrique) at Arkansas Pass (Mustang Island). Found them in excellent health, but in want of pay, clothing, and ammunition, all of which have been asked for from these headquarters by requisitions upon the department staff. Should that post be continued the artillery should be increased by four 24-pounder howitzers (brass, smooth) and eight or ten Coehorn mortars, so that an enemy approaching under cover of the sand-hills, among which the fort stands, could be reached by shells. The black troops there and at all the points on this coast should be armed.
At Brownsville, Tex., I consider the garrison ample, except in cavalry. Were the so-called cavalry there mounted, armed, equipped, and paid, they would more than suffice, but the colonel commanding the cavalry brigade reports that not more than 200 of his horses are fit for immediate service on account of want of forage, and that these would not stand a long trip. The country is barren of forage of all sorts and the horses rapidly dying. Between 300 and 400 of the horses purchased from the Mexicans under the contact made by Colonel Holabird have already died, being lean, undersized Mustang ponies when delivered, and having had hard work and but little forage since.
The order to send part of this cavalry force (200) to General Dana has just been to-day received by me. I do not deem it safe to leave General Herron on such and extensive frontier of arid plains without any efficient cavalry, which I would do if I ordered the 200 horses fit for the field to General Dana. I, therefore, shall await further directions in regard to this matter. Should the force at Brownsville be intended to operate on the enemy's communications between that frontier and the habitable part of Texas, east of the Nueces, from which cotton comes, and to which supplies are being sent daily from Eagle Pass, a mounted force should be kept with General Herron of 800, by sending horses to him and proper arms, clothing, and equipments for the men.
The mounted Mexicans are unreliable, except to steal horses, drive cattle, and give information to the enemy when captured. They should all be put in the quartermaster's department as vaqueros. Should, however, it be deemed advisable to keep a force on the Rio Grande simply to hold possession of the town of Brownsville and cover its own communication it would require in addition to the African troops now thereabouts a brigade of infantry, a battery of artillery with siege guns enough for the works, and five companies of cavalry for outposts and vedette duties. General Herron asks for the following artillery for the works being constructed: Sixteen guns and howitzers of 24 and 32 pounds.
There are four forts to arm, some of which are very extensive. My instructions to General Herron (copy of which is hereby inclosed)*
*See p. 309.