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[40] a positive refusal to surrender the post or the property. A floating report having been heard that Captain Hill contemplated attacking Colonel Ford's forces, Lieutenant-Colonel McLeod and Mr. Waller had already gone to Brazos Santiago to fortify that place. Another letter was sent by Commissioner Nichols stating distinctly the object of his mission, and that Texas was virtually out of the Union, which, on the same day, February 23d, was answered in these words: ‘You have raised a question upon which my government will doubtless take action in due season, but which in the meantime cannot affect my military duties or responsibilities.’

This, with what he had stated previously in the interview, that the action of Colonel Ford in taking possession of Brazos island was an act of war, was conclusive evidence that any demonstration Colonel Ford could make with his force would not produce surrender without a desperate fight. As Hill had a number of cannon and men to man them, and Captain Stoneman was at the fort with two companies of cavalry, a hostile attack would entail the loss of many lives without any certainty of success. It was considered by Colonel Ford and Commissioner Nichols that as it might be designed by the Federals to collect a large force by concentrating troops from posts up the river, so as to permanently hold the fort at Brownsville, it would be proper to increase their strength upon the island, so as to hold it at all events. With that view Colonel Ford remained at Brownsville to watch the action of the Federals, and to ascertain the disposition of other officers there besides Captain Hill's; and Commissioner Nichols repaired to the island to urge the fortification. He dispatched to Corpus Christi to hasten the coming of recruits, and went himself on board a vessel, the General Rusk, to Galveston; raised four companies, with B. F. Terry as major of the battalion, and returned with them to Brazos Santiago on the 2d of March, 1861, when he found the place fortified with guns mounted for defense if

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