from obtaining their value, and it would therefore be better, in order to prevent a sacrifice, to have them purchased by some foreigner selected by the cotton officer to represent the Government, and your project to get arms might then be carried out through Lieutenant-Colonel Hutchins, who is very desirous of serving you, and, with his associates, is perfectly competent to manage this description of business.
It is believed that 1,200 or 1,500 bales of cotton, judiciously handled, would pay for the guns and give us the meanest to purchase other things, and thus obviate the necessity of ultimately furnishing 8,000 or 9,000 bales to Mr. House, as is intimated in your letter might be required. It must appear clear to you that if this bussines can be managed at all it can be better managed through enlightened shipping merchants, such as compose the cotton board, than through Mr. House. It would certainly be much less expensive, and would reduce the responsibility incident to an irregular procedure, if backed up and supported by trusted agents of the Government, who have the confidence of the authoeiteis at Richmond. The expenses to be incurred by Messrs. House and Co. in such an enterprise, if undertaken by them, cannot be accurately estimated here, but it is not difficult to see that if they ultimately get possession of 9,000 bales of cotton, as computed by you, and have permission to export it to England, its value will be, at the current price in Liverpool, 60 cents per pound; say, $300 per bale, $2,700,000, which would purchase in our money, at the present gauge in Houston, $67,500,000.
If not asking too much, do me the favor to discuss this matter with Mr. James Sorley, who indicates in his letter a very high appreciation of yourself personally. He may discover great inaccuracy in the foregoing reasoning, but if not tasking too much the time due your military matters, I desire that you investige the results of this enterprise through the agency of some good business man, and, if possible, reach the merits of the case.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH.
January 23, 1864-2 p. m.
Captain E. P. TURNER:
SIR: My scouts report that the enemy have returned toward Decorw's. The report of the boy forwarded this morning is probably correct, and the object of the enemy was to get fresh meat. They obtained but a small supply. The troops are in good spirits and will hold the mouth of Caney, I believe.
H. P. BEE,
HEADQUARTERS NORTHERN SUB-DISTRICT OF TEXAS,
Bonham, January 23, 1864.
Major General J. B. MAGRUDER:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I inclose you copies of letters from Colonel Bourland and J. W. Hale, in order that you may form some idea of the condition of this country and give me more means to enable me