HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI D
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., January 7, 1864.
Maj. Gen. JOHN B. MAGRUDER:
GENERAL: The attention of the lieutenant-general commanding h? been called to your circular "to the planters and farmers of Texas," dated Rugeley's, 7th December, 1863, a copy of which is inclosed. In reference to this subject he instructs me to call your attention to General Orders, No. 138, Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, Richmond, Va., 1863, October 24. By a comparison of your circular with this order you will see that it conflicts with its second, third, and fourth paragraphs. In calling for labor on fortifications this order should as nearly as possible be followed, and, except in a great emergency, not more than one-fifth per cent. of the male slave population between the ages of seventeen and fifty should ever be called for.
The wisdom of calling for a larger proportion than one-fifth per cent., scattered over a wide, extended territory, is greatly to be doubted. They can but rarely be all needed or used judiciously, and when thus called out are necessarily withdrawn from their labors upon the farms and plantations, and as a consequence there must be a corresponding decrease in the grain and other productions which are essential to the subsistence both of the army and the citizens, thus lessening the power of endurance, which must now be one of the main elements of our success, and nursing the spirit of disaffection that may be amongst us. For these and other obvious reasons such a call for labor as the one inclosed, unlimited in its duration, sweeping in its provisions, and drawing upon so large a proportion of the slave population and over such an extent of country, for the defense of points so distant from each other, seems to be injudicious, and if still necessary should at least be modified so as to conform to General Orders, No. 138, above referred to, and relaxed even more if it can be safely done. Such portion of the circular as embraces the counties of Red River, Lamar, Bowie, Delta, Marion, Harrison, Titus, and Upshur will be revoked, as these counties have already been called on for their full quota to complete the defenses of upper Red River.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. S. WEST,
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HDQRS. DIST. TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA,
Rugeley's, December 7, 1863.
To the Planters and Farmers of Texas:
The major-general hereby calls upon the planters of Brazoria, Matagorda, and Fort Bend Counties to place all of their able-bodied male slaves, except one, at the disposal of the Government to work upon fortifications. Those of Matagorda and Brazoria Counties west of the San Bernard River will send their slaves to Hawkins' Landing on the Caney. Planters living in Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties east of the San Bernard will send theirs to Brazoria. Negroes within a circuit of 10 miles of Rugeley's, being assigned to Mr. Dance, assistant military engineer, and those furnished by planters for hauling corn to Elliott's Ferry, are not included in the foregoing. Planters of Grimes, Walker, Polk, Tyler, Jasper, Newton, and all other counties south and east of these, between the Brazos and Sabine Rivers, except Fort Bend and Brazoria, will send their slaves to Houston. Planters of Gonzales, De Witt, Victoria, Calhoun, Jackson, Lavaca, Wharton, Colorado, and Austin Counties, west of the Brazos, will send their slaves to Gonzales. Planters of Bur-net, Travis, Bastrop, Fayette, Washington, Brazos, Madison, Houston, Angelina, San Augustine, Sabine, and all others east and north of the same and between the Colorado, Red River, and Louisiana State line will send their slaves to Austin. Planters west and south of the Colorado not embraced in the foregoing will send their slaves to San Antonio. Slaves working at Sabine Pass or at any other point, under Government orders, will not be moved unless by special orders.
Lieut. Col. A.M. Lea, at Gonzales; Major Kellersberg, at Austin; Major Wilson, at Houston; Captain Schleicher, at San Antonio; Lieutenant Thompson, at Hawkins' Landing, and a quartermaster or his agent at Brazoria (or if there is none, one will be appointed for the purpose by Captain Wiggins), will provide the slaves at the several depots with rations, fuel, and quarters, and will employ a local physician for their treatment in sickness and will provide generally in the best possible manner for their care and comfort. In the absence of either of the above-mentioned officers from their posts the post quartermaster at such posts will provide for the negroes as above ordered.
The foregoing call is for able-bodied male slaves between the ages of sixteen and fifty years. Owners of slaves will, to the extent of their ability, furnish their slaves with intrenching tools, such as axes, spades, shovels, hoes, picks, grubbing hoes, &c.
By order of Maj. Gen. J. B. Magruder:
EDMUND P. TURNER,
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.