the seizure, by Colonel Benavides, of the customs, and complaining of his interference with the officers of the revenue department on the Rio Grande. You will direct and investigation made into this matter, require a written explanation to be made by Colonel Benavides and will instruct him that the seizure by military officers of the revenue funds is not authorized and will under no circumstances be sanctioned. If the explanation of Colonel Benavides is not satisfactory you will direct his arrest by General Slaughter, and forward the report to department headquarters for action. The revenue officers liable to military duty will not be relieved except under special orders from department headquarters, when arrangements will be made through the Treasury Department for supplying their places.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
MARSHALL, TEX., December 27, 1864.
[General S. COOPER;?]
DEAR GENERAL: I arrived at this place after a long and tedious trips avoiding capture but running pretty close on the Yankees several times. In Jackson, Miss., I came near losing one of my little children, who was extremely ill for several days. Being detained there in consequence of my child's illness I sent my baggage on in charge of a gentleman who, through carelessness, permitted it to be captured by a gun-boat. So everything I possessed went up-my wife's and my children's and my clothing, &c. It is a serious loss, but all in a life-time.
I delivered your letter introducing me to General Smith, and he received me very kindly and evinces a disposition to aid me in every way. I shall commence immediately a through inspection and forward to you as detailed and correct report of affairs in this State and Arkansas as possible. I will can your attention to one grievous evil existing in an official report, which requires correction. There are a number of able-bodied men detailed on the Mississippi River to put mails and persons across the river. These men, instead of subserving the public interest, have converted their ferries into extortioning machines, and will pass deserters over as quick as anyone authorized to cross. I stopped some deserters who were about to be crossed by a man by the name of Pintard (detailed), living near Rodney. I was credibly informed that if a soldier or officer, on furlough or under orders, wanted to cross the river he will not have them put over unless he is paid $100 in advance for man and horse, while he never pretends to ask for a man's paper, being only interested in his having sufficient money. In short, hundreds, of deserters are crossing the river daily, being put over by these men who get these details to keep out of the army and who are making independent fortunes. Nor are our scouts on either side of the river vigilant. In fact, I did not see any on either side near the river. The prices for passing persons across the river ought to be regulated by the authority granting the detail. Any person passing over soldiers not authorized to cross or be absent from their commands ought to be put in the field, and otherwise punished. I will report more fully and specifically (officially) as soon as I can make an investigation of the matter. I took the responsibility of stopping on this side for the present a Private Boothe, of a Texas regiment in Ross' brigade, in order to send him to the river to detect deserters from his command and have them arrested, also to get infor-