November 1, 1863, Bonham,
Brigadier General Henry E. McCullogh to Captain Edmund P. Turner
HEADQUARTERS NORTHERN SUB-DISTRICT,
Bonham, Tex., November 1, 1863.
Capt. EDMUND P. TURNER,
Assistant Adjutant-General :
CAPTAIN: Since receiving orders to send the troops to Houston, I have given the subject much thought, and though I have ordered the troops to move as early as possible--which will be to leave here on Thursday morning, and the quartermaster to strain every nerve in getting up the necessary transportation--I am not willing to see them go without informing the major-general of the effect that their withdrawal may have upon the country, and indicate to him that, as a military movement, nothing can justify it, in my judgment, under the circumstances, but the clearly defined fact that he is certainly and utterly unable to hold the enemy in check without them, and that one section of the country must be sacrificed to save the other, or any of it.
In order to give the general any reason for this opinion, it is necessary to refer to the true condition of General Steele's command, which is simply on outpost. His Indian force is a thing to be counted when rations are issued and pay-day comes; but all, General Cooper included, agree that it is totally unreliable, except when strongly sustained by white troops, and only partially reliable when that is done. Then we must look to the white troops as the only force to keep the enemy from moving on us.
This force, as I understand it, with [James] Bourland, now on the frontier, upon which the Indians have been killing and stealing in his absence, consists of Gurley's regiment, part deserted; Hardeman's regiment [Arizona Brigade], short one or two companies, part deserted; Showalter's battalion, Baird's battalion, both of which would not make a full battalion; De Morse's regiment, large part deserted, and Bass' regiment (nine companies), part deserted, making in all, effective men, not exceeding 1,500 cavalry and infantry. Add to this, three, I believe, very poor four-gun batteries, and you have the entire effective force. I will have Martin's regiment, some 500 effective men, two companies State cavalry certain, and probably three, making 120 or 180; one company of Showalter's, 50, and Lieutenant-Colonel [M. G.] Settle's battalion of infantry, say 300 at the outside, but better recorded at 200 to 250, and not a cannon; with from 400 to 800 deserters to control; these have agreed to come out, but may not even yet do so, and if they should not, it will take every man I have to do anything at all with them, and if the troops ordered off go, I could do nothing in the world with them, and this country would, in some places, be at their mercy.
The general says that there is no danger of the Federals advancing upon us from the north. That may be true, but, if true, may it not be from the fact that I have an apparently strong force to sustain Steele with, in case they press him back through a desert country upon me. My force has been greatly and intentionally overrated by Steele and Cooper heretofore, and as soon as messengers can go with the news, the Yankees will know that that force is gone, and then what will there be to hold them in check and keep them out of this country?
It may be said that Quantrill will help you. That may be true in part, but I have but little confidence in men who fight for booty, and whose mode of warfare is but little, if any, above the uncivilized Indian, and who say now that they are afraid to enter our army regularly for fear of being captured.
After looking at the bad effects it will have upon us here, and north of us, in a military point of view, let us look at the moral effect it may have here.
Public sentiment had changed greatly, and our cause was being strengthened according to the security felt by the masses, and the people and the troops begin to feel that they had some hope of protection in this army, and all had determined to make the fight outside of Texas. Now the people will lapse back into their former apathy; our friends feel weakened; our opposers strengthened, and our cause morally, deeply injured.
As there is no immediate prospect of the advance of the enemy, the troops in a body may not, and I think will not, refuse to go, but many of them will dodge off and not go, and, when pressed, if I have the force to press them, will take to the brush, and I do not believe that Colonel Townes will get to the coast with 700 effective men. Colonel Gould was here when the order reached me; talked rather despondingly about his men going, and I don't think there will be 200 out of the 400 or 500 he claim will ever start, much less go.
Now, sir, I have given you facts and my views. Please lay them before the major-general at once, and let him judge and act for the best.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY E. McCULLOCH,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Northern Sub-District.
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