Marmion is the first and only information I have received on the subject. I hear but seldom from the mouth of Caney, and only through Captain Turner. In accordance with instructions I shall proceed as soon as possible to the Caney, and take with my Woods' brigade. Likens' regiment moved yesterday to support Colonel Buchel. I am ordered "under no circumstances to permit the enemy to gain possession of the mouth of the Caney or Bernard."
I will comply with the order as far as possible to do so, but as the works at those points are not finished, nor any guns at hand to place in them, I shall have to rely on my troops alone to defend it, and my ability to do so will depend upon the force the enemy brings.
In this connection I ask to make a few suggestions, being the result of my best judgment and fully aware of the situation. We must win the first fight we have; it is all-important to inspirit the people, strengthen the wavering, and create confidence. Its loss, however unimportant it may be, will be injurious to the morale of army and people. We need not disguise from ourselves that the enemy are in earnest; that when they move, if up the beach, it will be in force superior by three to one to what we can bring against them at the mouth of Caney or Bernard; add to this the fire of their gun-boats at easy range, and the odds become much more disproportional. The mouth of Caney, in my opinion, unless fully fortified in accordance with the plans of the general commanding, cannot be held for an hour against such a force as I have presumed, for I should not deem it prudent to risk the light batteries on the beach, for the reason that if the horses are killed they cannot be replaced, and then in case of retreat the pieces might have to be left, as the country is open and a panic might ensue.
I therefore respectfully suggest that every available spade be sent to Velasco, and the east side of the Brazos, a deep and wide river, be our first line of defense, and our best effort be made there. If we can foil them there, they must leave the coast and the range, of their gun-boats (which at once reduces the odds against us), and attempt to turn the position. The same troops will be still available against them, as the river is equally wide and deep for miles above. Should our works be completed at Velasco, then the Bernard should next be fortified, and last the Caney. As it now is our laboring force is divided between the three points, and if the enemy move as son as we may expect, none of these works will be available. The enemy can do us no harm so long as they keep on the beach, and we ought to be able to drive him back if they leave it, and I would reserve my men, so valuable to us, as their places cannot be supplied, for their main attack on the vital portions of the State.
The coast still in our possession is useless to us in a commercial
and military sense, and is held as a matter of laudable pride. Its loss by us does not advance the enemy in the work of conquest, and would be a barren victory except as to Galveston, which I would hold if possible. I would respectfully call the attention of the general commanding to the fact that there is but one ferry-boat at Velasco, and suggest that a sufficient number of boats be made in the vicinity of Columbia without the least delay. I hear nothing of the bridge being built on the Bernard, and fear valuable time has been lost, for to make any defense at the mouth of Caney a considerable number of troops must go there, and the means of crossing are entirely inadequate. The question of supply is now all-important. The troops must move from this camp to-morrow or next day. The