Having performed the duty assigned me by the inclosed order,* I now report myself ready to perform such service as shall be assigned me by your committee or the commissioners appointed by you. The commissioners have very kindly relieved me from many duties common to officers commanding, it being my duty only to organize and command such forces as may be necessary to secure and guard the public property in my division in charge of persons appointed by the commissioners to receive the same from the Federal officers. I have this day appointed W. T. Mechling my assistant adjutant-general, which the rank of captain.
NEW ORLEANS, February 25, 1861.
His Excellency JEFF. DAVIS:
We have reliable information that the U. S. troops from Texas are to pass through this city. Shall they be allowed to land? A large number of the officers and men can probably be secured for your service. Please advise me on the subject. General Twiggs was ordered to turn over the command to Colonel Waite, a Northern man, but preferred surrendering to Texas.
Montgomery, February 25, 1861.
Major General BRAXTON BRAGG, Commanding, New Orleans.
SIR: Your dispatch of this date to the President has been received, and in reply he instruct me to say that the question submitted for consideration is not altogether free from difficulty. The circumstances of the case are peculiar and exceptional, and must be disposed of in a spirit of liberal courtesy. It seems, therefore, to the President, if there was a formal capitulation by the troops of the United States or an informal understanding with the authorities of Texas upon which they acted, either in the surrender or abandonment of the forts, that they should have peaceful exit through the territories of the Government. This understanding should be carried out in good faith, upon their verbal assurance that their sole object is to reach the territory of the United States, and not to disturb the property or peace of any of the States of this Government through which they may pass, or to possess or occupy any of the forts, arsenals, or other property of this Government within these States. Should this assurance be refused, it will be your duty to arrest their progress, and keep them below Forts Jackson and Saint Philip until further ordered.
The President instructs me to add that he has entire confidence in your discretion and prudence, and feels satisfied that, whilst you scrupulously guard the honor and rights of this Government, you will do no act unnecessarily to precipitate a war. Should any of the officers or men desire to enlist in the service of this Government, it would be proper and right, and altogether acceptable, to receive them.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. P. WALKER,
Secretary of War.
*See p. 30 for instructions of McCulloch.