Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/126

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118 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Their equipment was superb. They had not been reduced to rags and starvation, like their comrades east of the Mississippi under Lee and Johnston. They had not felt the federal blockade. After Ap- pomattox they were in splendid fighting condition and eager for the fray.

Perhaps the situation needs a word or two of explanation.

At that time the French had been occupying Mexico nearly four years. Maximilian was on the throne, trying to permanently estab- nsh his empire, and Marshal Bazaine was backing him with 75,000 soldiers, with expected reinforcements from France.

King Cotton was still a power west of the Mississippi. Arkansas, Texas and part of Louisiana produced immense crops, which were easily transported across the Rio Grande and marketed for gold. The federals were unable to prevent this traffic and for some reason did not try very vigorously.

Arms, supplies, luxuries and money poured into Texas. In every town the stores were filled with foreign goods, and gold and silver jingled in every pocket.

The State was a vast arsenal. In every direction one could see inexhaustible supplies of ammunition, improved foreign muskets, rifles and artillery, clothing, provisions and medicine. Stacks of guns and packs of cannon were rusting from disuse.

Texas was able to furnish the whole Confederate army with a brand-new equipment. Only the blockade east of the Mississippi stood in the way.

General Shelby knew these conditions, and he believed that Presi- dent Davis, who had not then been captured, would make his way to Texas, with many of his ablest generals, and in a month or two probably 100,000 soldiers would succeed in following him.

Shelby applied to Kirby Smith to make an aggressive fight. The commander listened, assented and did nothing.

Then the daring MissOurian held a conference with several other generals and it was agreed to make a determined stand for the Con- federacy, under the leadership of General Simon Bolivar Buckner, a soldier with all the dash and glitter of Murat, and none of his fight- ing qualities.

Buckner agreed to the plan, everybody favored it. The next thing was to get rid of Kirby Smith.

Shelby hunted up the old man, and told him all about the confer- ence:

" The army has lost confidence in you," he said.