Columbus. [See inclosures marked B and C.]. This movement was made in concert with one to be made by Brigadier-General Grant from Cairo, to threaten Belmont and other points west of the Mississippi, his orders being similar to those received by me to threaten but not attack Columbus. [See again inclosure marked A.]
My special instructions to Brigadier-General Paine and Colonel Sanderson [see inclosures marked D and E] were of the most precise character: to move to a certain point and return by another road; not to make battle unless pressed thereto from necessity; to make a demonstration by the march.
The reports made to me by General Paine [see inclosures marked F and G] show that he transcended my orders, as he was fully aware of the object for which the detachment was made, for I had communicated to him verbally the nature of my instructions from Major-General Fremont, and that General Grant had similar instructions, and as no circumstance had occurred he might not reasonably have anticipated, such as the cannonading in the direction of Columbus, I regard his movement to Milburn and consequent non-return by the Lovelaceville and Blandville road as an unjustifiable departure from my orders. His distinct assertion in both reports that he would in a certain contingency have moved to the attack of Columbus exhibits to my mind a fixed purpose from the start to attempt to gain notoriety without reference to the public interests or his plain duty as a soldier. Had he by chance carried out his avowed purpose, I am satisfied, from what we know of the strength of the garrison and the inland defenses of Columbus, he would have been entirely unsuccessful and his command probably cut up in its retreat, thereby greatly imperiling the safety of this post, which is deemed of much importance.
On its return his command was, as is generally asserted, totally demoralized as a military body, some of the regiments without order or discipline straggling loosely along the road and committing great excesses. This I attribute to a large extent to the broken-down condition of the men by increasing the length of the march by going to Milburn and injudicious marching altogether. [See inclosures marked H and I.]
In view of what is above set forth, I think the conduct of Brigadier-General Paine and that of the regimental commanders should be investigated for the want of discipline exhibited during the expedition, that of the former especially, for his departure from my orders; also that of the enlisted men, to ascertain who committed the excesses imputed to them.
I have, therefore, to request that application may be made for a court of inquiry to sit at an early date to sift this whole matter.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. F. SMITH,
To the ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
Hdqrs. Dept.of the West, Saint Louis, Mo.
HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT, Saint Louis, Mo., November 1, 1861.
General SMITH, Paducah, Ky.:
SIR: In order to occupy the enemy in the Mississippi Valley and prevent his throwing the greater part of his forces into Northwestern Ar-