HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF LOUISIANA,
New Orleans, August 20, 1865.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
Your telegram of the 17th in relation to the designs upon Key West and Tortugas has just been received. An officer with dispatches for those posts will start immediately. General Sheridan, who is now here, will be advised at once, and every effort made to watch and detect the parties engaged in the conspiracy.
E. R. S. CANBY,
MATAMORAS, August 20, 1865.
Major General F. STEELE,
Commanding U. S. Forces, Brownsville, Tex.:
GENERAL: I have been informed from an undoubted source that Major-General Sheridan has issued an order for the arrest of all Confederate officers who crossed into Mexico after the surrender of the Department of the Trans-Mississippi by General E. K. Smith. As this order may have been issued under a misapprehension of the facts, so far as applicable to the Confederate officers stationed on the Rio Grande, I have deemed it proper to make the following statement both on my own account, as well as that of the officers made liable to imprisonment by this order. On the afternoon of the 7th of July [June?] I received per flag of truce from Brigadier-General Brown, U. S. Army, an order signed by Major-General Magruder, C. S. Army, and dated at Galveston, July [June?] 2, which stated that "General E. K. Smith had that day signed a convention with Major-General Canby, U. S. Army, by which he surrendered the Department of the Trans-Mississippi" and directing all officers of the Confederate army to protect and turn over public property when called for by the officer or agents of the United States Government. This order does not state the terms of their surrender nor was there any copy of the convention inclosed. It is useless for me to discuss the authority of a general to surrender troops 1,500 miles distant from his headquarters. I will simply state that I declined to accept a surrender, the terms of which I was ignorant. I was urged to this conclusion also by a rumor which subsequently proved true, that Generals Smith and Magruder, after ordering the surrender, were flying to Mexico for the purpose of engaging in the peaceful pursuits of life. In thus acting I am unaware of having violated any law of the United States Government. As a citizen of the United States had a perfect right to go to Mexico and enter into business of a peaceful nature, and I might add that by the same laws I had a perfect right to disobey the orders of Generals E. K. Smith and Magruder. When General Twiggs surrender the Department of Texas to the State authorities I declined so far as was in my power to obey, and resisted to the end. I am surely not blamed by United States Government for that act. On leaving my command I published an order counseling all soldiers and citizens to return to their homes and render a cheerful obedience to the laws and orders of the United States Government. What more could I have done had I accepted the surrender? I deny that any officer is more strongly impressed with the importance of healing the wounds caused by the late sanguinary struggle, or has done more in his sphere to bring about that end, that I have. In conclusion, I will add that the insecurity of