February 3, 1864, Bonham, Tex.,
Brigadier General Henry E. McCulloch to Major General J. B. Magruder

Bonham, Tex., February 3, 1864

 Maj. Gen. J. B. MAGRUDER,
Commanding District of Texas, &c. :

MY DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 29th ultimo is at hand. I do not expect you to send me troops from your command on the coast, which is now almost in sight of the enemy, but hope to get something through you from General Smith. You must remember how large my district is and that there are deserters in nearly every county in it, and they are not a few and have abundance of sympathizers  who give them information and feed them on the sly or let them steal from them without trying to keep them from it. My brush crowd is reduced to 209, last accounts, and are still deserting and a good many going to the Federals. General Smith desires me to send them to their commands, which cannot be done without taking them under guard, and I have not the men to spare to do that.

Scarcely a man in this section of country is willing to go back to his old command. There are some 25 or 30 who have voluntarily come out of the brush crowd and want to go to you on the coast, and there are about 50 men who reported under the amnesty orders and have done good service here that have asked me to let them go with them, none of whom can be got to their commands without force, which I have not got to spare at this time, and I think my best plan will be to order them to you and let you arrest and send them to their commands. I sent 64 prisoners off to Tyler yesterday morning, and will send 13 or more to Maxey in two or three days, and have just heard of 62 deserters in one gang from Maxey's command, after whom I have sent a company of cavalry and sent expresses ahead of them, so that I hope to catch them. The deserters, as far as I know, are not embodied; are in parties of from 4 to 30, and move every two or three days.

The party I sent to attack in Denton County got word of our movement and scattered, so that we only got 14 when we should have gotten over 100. Quantrill will not obey orders, and so much mischief is charged to his command here that I have determined to disarm, arrest, and send his entire command to you or General Smith. This is the only chance to get them out of this section of country, which they have nearly ruined, and I have never yet got them to do any service. Whenever orders have gone to them they have some excuse, but are certain not to go. In one instance the enrolling officer of Grayson County sent them to impress some whisky at a distillery, under my orders, based upon yours, and they got into a row, killed one man, and plundered the still-house and dwelling, and the next night went back and burned the still-house, but nothing can be proven on them, because the people are afraid to swear against them. They regard the life of a man less than you would that of a sheep-killing dog. My plan now is to arrest Quantrill's men, send you about 100 returned deserters for you to dispose of, and then arrest all the balance of my brush crowd, send them to Shreveport, and do all I can to arrest all deserters, those who harbor them, and those who openly avow disloyal sentiments. If the true men of this country would swear what they know I could send several hundred men to the penitentiary for treason, &c, but they are afraid and will not make affidavit in any instance, but I think when I get Quantrill and the brush men out of the way they will have more confidence.

Quantrill and his men are determined never to go into the army or fight in any general battle, first, because many of them are deserters from our Confederate ranks, and next, because they are afraid of being captured, and then because it won't pay men who fight for plunder. They will only fight when they have all the advantage and when they can run whenever they find things too hot for them. I regard them as but one shade better than highwaymen, and the community believe that they have committed all the robberies that have been committed about here for some time, and every man that has any money about his house is scared to death, nearly, and several moneyed men have taken their money and gone where they feel more secure. I am not disposed to complain at my lot, but certainly no other man is surrounded with more difficulties with as little means to meet and overcome them. I have no officers of the line in the district scarcely who know anything about military affairs, and the enrolling officers, conscript and State, as well as the most of the people, exhibit, as a general thing, more ignorance or knavery than any other people in the world, I think. I have begged and still beg for a good inspector-general, and so far you have sent me Lieutenant-Colonel Riordan, who may be good man enough, but certainly fit for very little, if anything, as an officer. When Major Illingsworth gets back talk to him about this country and see if he thinks I overrate the difficulties here. I need a good inspector-general and two or three good drill officers and a good court-martial to condemn and shoot several of these villians who desert two, three, or four times.

Well, it is now late at night and I must rest. I will not give up the ship nor "shorten sail to get off a lee shore," and neither personal ease nor personal danger shall keep me from doing my duty as far as I have the capacity and means, but feeling I have but little of either compared to the great demand for both, I can but feel uneasy for my country. For myself I have no care. If I can only see my country free and peace restored I am content.

May God help us to do our duty and serve our country.

Most respectfully and truly,


Brig. Gen., Commanding Northern Sub-District.


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