PRIVATE AND HDQRS. TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
CONFIDENTIAL. Shreveport, La., January 15, 1864.
Major General R. TAYLOR,
Commanding District of West Lousiana:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication from Alexandria, under date of January 12.* I am glad you are increasing the amount of supplies introduced into your district in exchange for cotton. It should be extended so as to meet the wants not only of your district, but, if practicable, the other portions of the department. The interruption of the Rio Grande trade makes the introduction of supplies through the enemy's lines the sine quad non. Convinced of the uncertain tenure by which our trade across the Mexican frontier was kept up, I some months since sent Mr. Stevenson and others to New Orleans and Washington for the purpose of securing, with the tacit consent of the Federal authorities, the exchange, through foreign houses, of cotton for gold, sterling, or army supplies. This has in part been accomplished, and will, I believe, be successfully perfected.
In carrying out this policy I propose, as the Government cotton fails, to absorb, by purchase or impressment, the cotton in the hands of private individuals. This course can be pursued by you in the section where the supplies are delivered to you. If you desire it, an agent of the cotton office will be sent with instructions to purchase in that vicinity the cotton needed by your quartermaster in carrying out his arrangements.
Colonel Broadwell has been instructed to furnish you with the lists of cotton that has been disposed of an or east of the Ouachita River within your district. The points of delivery of cotton which Colonel Broadwell states will be designated by the cotton bureau must refer to the points at which the cotton sold by the bureau to Messrs. Menard and Stevenson is to be delivered. In the sale by planters to the Government the points of delivery for their cotton was fixed. In the sale of this cotton by the Government the same points must be designated, and the cotton bureau alone possesses the necessary information. In determine the points at which cotton is to be delivered for supplies coming from within the enemy's lines the district commander will be consulted, and the exchange will be made under his supervision and restrictions.
Transactions for the sale of Government cotton to Messrs. Stevenson and Menard have been perfected by the cotton bureau, which are regarded as extremely advantageous. Colonel Broadwell informs me that he has made you acquainted with the details of these transactions, and I request that you will give Mr. Stevenson every facility compatible with the safety and interest of your command in exporting the cotton purchased by him from the Government.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST LOUISIANA, Alexandria, January 15, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that the enemy have arrested their movement at Franklin. Some 4,000 under General Emory hold
*Not found; but see letter of January 11 [p.852] on same subject.