him when I assumed control of the division, and have returned him to his regiment for the action of the major-general commanding in his case.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. P. BENTON,
P. S.-I am informed by Private W. J. Bailey, Ninety-ninth Illinois Volunteers, who was one of the party, that he discovered what appeared to be extensive rebel works on the other side of chicolet Bayou and a force of infantry, in his estimation, 1,000 strong. I send Bailey down for examination.
W. P. BENTON,
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES ON RIO GRANDE, Brownsville, Tex., February 23, 1864.
Major General E. O. C. ORD,
GENERAL: Matters here remain about the same as at the time of your visit. Colonel Ford has reached Fort Ewell, where he has established headquarters, with a depot for supplies, and is making desperate efforts to raise force sufficient to warrant him in attacking this place. He is receiving aid from all the cotton factors at Matamoras, who, of course, are deeply interested in his success. If the spring season was a little further advanced, so that horses could pick up grass, I would favor a movement against him with the cavalry, but as it is our horses at present could never live to get over the sand. The last two steamers, Crescent and Clinton, brought us forage, so that soon we shall be all right. In accordance with your instructions, I have ordered a sixty days' supply of everything needed at this post.
Captain McFarland went over with you for the quartermaster's department, and by this boat I send a representative of the medical department and my chief of artillery and ordnance officer. The articles called for in requisitions will not come forward without some one to look after them personally. These officers will report upon their arrival at your headquarters, and exhibit their requisitions and instructions. Will you please instruct your chiefs of staff department to aid them in procuring what is necessary and getting it forwarded? The supply of medicines for the last three months has never come to hand, and no attention has been paid to urgent calls for vaccine matter. I have been compelled, therefore, to purchase largely of some kinds of medicines. The agent who goes over now carries with him a duplicate of the last requisition and a requisition for the next three months.
Captain Welfley, chief of artillery, has requisitions for guns for the works here and at Brazos. He understands loading and unloading heavy artillery, and if the guns could be procured so that he could load them at once it would be well. Major Hamilton is at work on Fort Brown, and will push it to completion with the greatest rapidly. The force is engaged at present on the outer works, near each end of the lagoon. The health of our men is improving; both in the post and the small-pox hospitals the number of patients