coast will far exceed the cost of maintaining a company of soldiers at Fort Umpqua. That fort is of much more importance to this agency than Fort Hoskins.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. BIDDLE,
U. S. Indian Agent.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NEW MEXICO,
Santa Fe, N. Mex., October 18, 1862.
Honorable MONTGOMERY BLAIR,
Postmaster-General, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: Last winter General George Wright, commanding the Department of the Pacific, submitted to the General-in-Chief a proposition to have the Southern Overland Mail Route opened by volunteers from California, and to have certain forts in New Mexico then held by the rebels reoccupied by our troops. General McClellan acceeded to this, and I was directed to organize and conduct a military expedition from California across the great desert to the Rio Grande, to give practicable effect to the proposition. This duty has been done. Our troops now occupy Mesilla and Tucson, Ariz. Ter. Besides, I have established a post at Apache Pass, and have now in successful operation a chain of vedettes from Tucson to Los Angeles, in California. One great purpose had in view by this movement was to give your department an opportunity to remove the overland mail from its present route, where, in the Sierra Nevada and eastward from the range of mountains to Salt Lake, for months in the year the mail is obstructed by snows. Tons of mail matter it is said the company was obliged to leave along the road on this account last winter. The Bannock and Shoshone Indians west of Salt Lake, and the Sioux Indians between Salt Lake and Kansas, are more hostile and offer greater risks to the safe transit of the mails by the route than are offered by any Indians on the southern mail route. If the mail should run from Independence, Mo., or Fort Leavenworth, Kans., via Santa Fe, N. Mex., thence down the Rio Grande to Mesilla, and thence over the Southern Overland Mail Route to Los Angeles, Cal., it would have little or no obstructions by Indians; would absorb the present mail to New Mexico; would afford to this Territory a daily mail; would absorb the present mail from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Cal., and afford that portion of California with a daily mail. It would run through a country where in winter there are no obstructions by snows, and over which it ran in other years almost invariably inside of schedule time. On the southern route from Mesilla to Los Angeles the road is good; the stations are nearly all built, ann tolerable repair; the wells are dug, &c., and I have been informed by the agent of the company in San Francisco, Mr. Louis McLane, that if the southern mail route should again be opened the road could be restocked and the mail set running in sixty days from the time the order to that effect should be given. Time has proved and will always prove that the Northern Overland Mail Route in winter is not a sure, safe, practicable route. No sophistries can stop the snow from blocking the road west of Salt Lake and through the Sierra Nevada, and none can prove that the southern mail route is not now entirely practicable. Should the people on the Pacific Coast be granted a daily overland mail by your Department, your Department will be sure to find that it must be by the southern route.