HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
Alexandria, March 23, 1864
Brigadier General A. L. LEE, Commanding Cavalry Division
GENERAL: Brigadier General C. P. Stone, chief of staff, desires that you send a strong scout out on the Opelousas road to endeavor to get some information concerning the march of General Franklin's command. The strength of the escort must be determined by yourself and the officers commanding the cavalry upon that road.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE B. DRAKE,
HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Matagorda Island, Tex., March 23, 1864
Colonel RICHARD B. IRWIN, A. A. G., Dept of the Gulf:
COLONEL: A number of colored refugees escaping from Port Lavaca brought within our lines last night the rebel schooner Fanny Fern, which has been turned in to the quartermaster as U. S. property. The same refugees report that Green's rebel brigade left Lavaca River about two weeks since, and that Duff's regiment was under marching orders, both for Louisiana. They also report that Brackinridge, with three companies of cavalry, now occupies Powderhorn (Indianola); that families declining to come away with us and remaining there are harshly treated and ordered to leave next week (when the town is to be burned), and that two schooners remain in Lavaca Bay, the Neptune and Angeline, the latter loaded with cotton and commanded by Poindexter, who professes the intention to run the blockade, of which I have advised Lieutenant A. P. Cooke, commanding the U. S. gun-boat Estrella, now here.
Captain Armstrong, commanding Texas scouts, reported last night, through the line of couriers running between the extremities of this island, that a small rebel force, probably a reconnoitering party, showed itself yesterday on the mainland beyond the Oyster Shell Reef, but soon disappeared. To-day I made a personal reconnaissance in that direction, but neither saw nor heard further of the party. Our defensive works, at the rate they are now progressing, notwithstanding the wasting action of the wind upon the sand of which they are composed, will be soon pushed to completion. They could be made available now as a partial defense. Their permanency will be secured as far as possible by the use of grass sods.
Before concluding this dispatch I cannot forbear expressing the opinion that now, while the enemy's attention and most of his forces are drawn eastward to the Red River, a most favorable opportunity offers for concentrating a force at this point penetrating into Texas. With the Thirteenth Army Corps, re-enforced by a due proportion of cavalry and co-operated with by a few vessels of war, I am convinced that Houston, Galveston, and the hostile works near the mouth of the Brazos River might be taken, and the way thus opened to the speedy overthrow of the rebel power throughout Texas. My best endeavors, and life, if necessary, are at the disposal of the general commanding, to carry into effect so important an object.
Your obedient servant,
JOHN A. McCLERNAND,