SPECIAL ORDERS, HDQRS. TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPT., No. 14. Shreveport, La., January 19, 1864.
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VI. Brigadier General A. Rust, Provisional Army, C. S., will report without delay to Major-General Magruder, commanding District of Texas, &c., for assignment to duty.
By command of Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith:
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT, Shreveport, La., January 20, 1864.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT:
SIR: Major Johnson, who has just returned from an inspection of Arkansas and Texas, will give you full reports of the armies and of the condition of the department. Since my last letter to the War Department the operations of the enemy on the Texas coast have assumed a more formidable and threatening aspect. Established on Matagorda Bay, he has secured a safe and convenient base for future operations. San Antonio or Houston may be his objective points; the permanent occupation of the former would effectually close the Mexican trade and cut off our supplies; the possession of the latter, with its system of railroads, would involve the abandonment of Galveston, and strike a most vital blow at the interests of the district. General Magruder, with his usual energy and activity, has made every preparation with the means at his disposal for meeting and defeating the plans of the enemy. General Green's division from Louisiana has joined him, and Parsons' brigade from Arkansas has been ordered to report to him. With the State troops which were called into service in July last General Magruder will be enabled to concentrate a force of near 15,000.
A march on San Antonio by the enemy with this force on his flank will be extremely hazardous and should result in disaster and defeat. If he operates directly on Houston he will encounter great natural obstacles, with little hope of success. General Taylor, whose means of obtaining information are good, reports under 8,000 men to have sailed for the Texas, coast, and estimates the force remaining in lower Louisiana at 13,000, exclusive of negro regiments. The only true line of operations by which the enemy can penetrate the department is the valley of Red River, rich in supplies; with steam-boat navigation for six months in the year, it offers facilities for the co-operation of the army and navy, and enables them to shift their base as they advance into the interior. The enemy are fully aware of the importance of this line of operations, and I have reliable information from more than one quarter that as soon as the river rises a formidable expedition of land and naval forces will be employed in that direction. This, taken in connection with the reluctance evinced by the enemy in sending troops to Texas, and with the formidable fleet collected in the Mississippi, would point to active operations on Red River this spring. The facilities which the enemy possess in transportation and operating on interior lines give him advantages which, with his superiority of numbers, will tell in all the early operations of a campaign. In five or ten days he can shift his whole force from Louisiana to the Texas coast, requiring us to march a distance of 300 miles or more through a country destitute