powder appeared off the bar of the Brazos River, chased by the enemy. The cotton gun-boat Mary Hill was sent to her assistance and brought her in. A day or two afterward another vessel, containing 300 arms, ammunition, & c., was chased by the enemy and beached. Our men succeeded in saving the entire cargo, marching 25 miles for the purpose. Another vessel got into the Brazos near the same time with 250 spades. There are several thousand men without arms in my army, and but 12 spades at work at the mouth of the Caney.
I bought the arms at once from Mr. House, of Houston, who presented himself as their owner, and who two of the members of the cotton bureau, Colonel Hutchins and Mr. Sorley, subsequently told me was one of the most honest and upright merchants in Houston. They were Enfield rifles, for which I agreed to give him $ 35 each, according to his invoice, payable in cotton at its then value in gold, which was 4 cents per pound, estimating the currency at 10 for 1. By these vessels I received letters from my agent, Captain Da Ponte, and the Confederate consul, Mr. Helm, at Havana, stating that the 16,000 stand of arms (Enfield rifles) seized by the French had, through the skill and management of Captain Da Ponte, who went to the City of Mexico to see the French commanding general, been placed subject to my order at Vera Cruz. I found from these letters that if I could pay for them at Vera Cruz, and transport them to any of our ports still remaining out of possession of the enemy's land forces, I might secure the success of our arms in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and when Mr. House, who had himself much cotton, owned many vessels, and possessed large means, offered to pay for them and bring them at his own risk, I at once closed with him, taking one of the contracts made with the War Department by other parties as my basis, viz, the payment to him of 100 per cent. on the invoice price, that he might pay for these arms in cotton at a somewhat higher valuation than the special price per pound of the same at the time of the delivery of these arms, because the French authorities had released these arms to the Confederate authorities and not to the owners of these arms, and therefore it was certain that he could procure them at a much less rate than under ordinary circumstances.
These terms were agreed upon, and in order to bring the arms in as rapidly as possible, whilst we still had three ports not possessed by the land forces of the enemy, Mr. House proposed to purchase the steamer Clifton and the bark Cavallo, both captured from the enemy, the latter having passed through a prize court and been appraised, and the former to be fairly appraised. To this I agreed, and gave Mr. House an order on the cotton bureau for cotton for the 600 arms already delivered as above explained, with a note informing them that Mr. House would explain my further views. I also wrote a most conciliatory letter to Mrr. Sorley, a member of the Board, in which I earnestly asked their cordial co-operation to procure these arms, and begged that they would not permit any feelings of mercantile pride or considerations of temporary economy to retard or defeat the introduction of these arms. I also ordered Major Bloomfield, my chief quartermaster, to inform the cotton bureau that I should retain the control of contracts for arms, two having been made by Major Bloomfield, one with Mr. House and the other with Mr. Champlin. I recollect no other.
I was induced to retain the control of these contracts because the Board, having been but recently organized, could not have had cot
53 R R - VOL XXXIV, PT II