once, and I will have transportation in readiness to send 10,000 men from Morganza if Smith should move on your lines. He has orders to cross the Mississippi to re-enforce Hood, and I know has been collecting boats on the Washita and Black Rivers. This may be only a feint and your lines the true point. If it should be, hold your position, and you will be re-enforced with at least 15,000 men in a few days. I have suspended operations against Mobile until Smith's intentions are developed.
E. R. S. CANBY,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS, Helena, Ark., August 30, 1864.
Major W. H. MORGAN,
MAJOR: From rebel sources I learn to-day that the enemy is hard at work against General Steele. Dates I could not get, but I give you the story as I received it. It is not known here to the public. General Magruder is south of the railroad connecting Little Rock, and Devall's with 18,000 men,and General Price is south of the same line with 12,000 men, cavalry; that Pine Bluff is taken with its garrison; that Saint Charles is taken with its garrison; that the railroad is torn up and communications cut off between Devall's Bluff and Little Rock (ex necessitate rei); that an immediate attack was to be made on Devall's Bluff (General C. C. Andrews' command), and then Little Rock would be attacked on all aides by all the forces of the rebels. Helena would close their campaign. There is some fire in all this, as I know of a good deal of smoke. Shelby's force crossed at Augusta on Sunday night a week ago, and Dobbins' force has been withdrawn, save one company (Swan's), from behind Big Creek. Of this I am pretty certain, as I have it from escaped prisoners (citizens). I received this information to-day at noon. Last night I sent an expedition of 500 men, under Colonel Hudson, on transports, down the Mississippi to White River to Indian Bayou, six miles below Saint Charles. My object is to raid the country between White River and this points, capture all the horses and mules in that region which has been spared so far; also to drive in all fat cattle, destroy all mills which have fed Dobbin, and capture the company now near Trenton and commanded by Swan; arrest also and bring in prominent secesh as hostages for the good or better treatment of our men in Dobbin's hands, and the destruction of the houses of some infernal scoundrels who ought to be burned with their houses. The expedition left here at 8 p.m., and just before the departure, I received a report from the mouth of White River that a steamer which had started up White River had returned back because of reports of a large force of rebels on White River. I cautioned Hudson verbally and in writing about this report, and gave him a letter to the naval officer commanding at the mouth of White River, and instructed him that in case he could not with his poor boats and small force force the passage to Indian Bayou, to return to Laconia and carry out my orders in spite of the enemy, provided they were not in force too great on this side of White River. This report might explain the capture of Saint Charles. I will keep you constantly advised. I refer you to my letter of the 25th instant, and repeat that I should be re-enforced by two regiments of infantry and some cavalry if possible. I cannot now look to General Steele, who commands my department, and must look to you.