and position of the enemy, but avoid being led into ambush. Take two leading secessionists from the neighborhood of Elliott's Mills prisoners, to be held as hostages for the safety of William Mercer, a Union man and Kentuckian, taken by the invaders of his State and carried to Columbus or elsewhere as a prisoner.
By order of Brigadier-General Grant.
JNO. A. RAWLINS,
HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT, Saint Louis, Mo., September 26, 1861.
Brigadier General U. S. GRANT, Commanding at Cairo, Ill.:
Your report of the 23rd instant received.* I will order arms to be furnished for the regiments under command of Brigadier-General McClernand and re-enforce you with two new regiments as soon as possible. By this means you will be enabled, in concert with Brigadier-General Smith, to control the rebel forces on both the Kentucky and Missouri shores. Should the enemy expose a week point on either side of the river, you many inflict upon him a combined blow; but at present I am not in favor of incurring any hazard of defeat. It is not impossible that the enemy may cross at Belmont and attempt to march upon Cape Girardeau by way of Charleston. Should you be unable with your limited force to prevent this by the occupation of Charleston, you will do so by frequent demonstrations and strong reconnaissance in that direction.
By order of Major-General Fremont:
SAINT LOUIS, September 26, 1861.
Commanding, &c., Fort Leavenworth:
GENERAL: General Prentiss reports to the commanding general that from the best information he can get 3,000 rebels, under Harris, have crossed the Missouri to fall on you, while General Price, with his main body, remains on the right bank of the river. You are therefore directed to make it the first place special efforts to ascertain whether this report is correct, and should it prove true, then to use every endeavor to force the troops of Harris to a battle, and to prevent their escape.
The general hopes that accessions which your force has recently received, or will soon receive, of regular troops must make your command number double that of Harris, and, should the information of General Prentiss be accurate, promptness and activity must insure your success.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. EATON,
Colonel, and Military Secretary.
HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT, Jefferson City, September 28, 1861.
Brigadier General U. S. GRANT:
It is reported that the rebels have evacuated Columbus and crossed over to Belmont, to attack Cape Girardeau or Ironton. Should that be