of our railroads to concentrate them were the danger is most threatening. This applies, however, to the troops of the Eastern and Central Sub-Districts, the Western and Northern being too remote for co-operation in any general movement suddenly rendered necessary.
The existence of epidemic yellow fever at Galveston and Houston has been a great drawback to placing Galveston in a more defensible condition, but as the fever is now disappearing, I am in hopes to be able soon to have a force of laborers profitably employed. But it Galveston can be successfully defended at all, certainly it would be hazardous to intrust its defense to any smaller force than that now under General Hawes' command. Yet, if this organization you propose is carried into effect, except upon paper, the garrison of Galveston would necessarily be much reduced, or other points left entirely defenseless. While on this point I would mention that the force now at Sabine Pass, relatively to its importance, and that of Galveston would necessarily be much reduced, or other points left entirely defenseless. While on this point I would mention that the force now at Sabine Pass, relatively to its importance, and that of Galveston is too large, and it is my intention, as soon as it is safe to do so, to remove the larger portion of the force now at the former to the latter point. In reference to the proposed consolidation, Spaight's and Griffin's battalions, I have given the necessary preliminary instructions on the subject, but find on an examination of the returns that there are thirteen companies in the two battalions instead of twelve, as mentioned by you. What shall be done with the odd company? In Griffin's battalion there is a company (Bickley's) who are excellent heavy artillerists. Probably it might be as well to leave this company unattached. Before taking any steps to carry into effect the instructions contained in your letter of the 12th I shall await your answer to this.
J. G. WALKER,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST LOUISIANA,
Alexandria, October 27, 1864.
Fourth Louisiana Cavalry:
COLONEL: I am directed by the lieutenant-general commanding to reply to your communication of the 19th instant, which is just received. The proceeding which took place under the administration of the predecessors of Lieutenant-General Buckner he does not propose to criticize or investigate further than is absolutely necessary for the discharge of his present duties. Whether justified or not by your orders from superiors in your conduct with the civil courts in the cases referred to in your communication, you will now understand that no such course will be pursued in future. Under no circumstances whatever have you any authority to shoot any jayhawker or deserter, except when they are attempting to escape or are resisting an arrest, and then only when such a course is clearly necessary to secure the arrest. With citizens you have nothing to do, except when they are attempting to communicate military information to the enemy, or are actively engaged in obstructing the operations of your command. Martial law does not exist within this district. The military authorities have no power whatever over citizens, except to the extent already indicated. You have no authority whatever to resist civil process, or to disobey the legal judgment of civil courts. When such process is served upon you it must be immediately respected, except in case of undoubted civil usurpation, and even then you will not judge finally of the question, but