localities and passing events, it is intended, therefore, to leave a considerable margin for the exercise of your judgment and discretion.
The main rebel army (Price's) west of the Mississippi is believed to have passed Dade County in full retreat upon Northwestern Arkansas, leaving Missouri almost freed from the enemy, excepting in the southeast of the State. Assuming this basis of fact, it seems desirable, as you are not likely to overtake Price, and are in danger of making too long a line from your own base of supplies and re-enforcements, that you should give up the pursuit, halt your main army, divide it into two corps of observation, one occupying Sedalia and the other Rolla, the present termini of railroad; then recruit the condition of both corps by re-establishing and improving their discipline and instructions, perfecting their clothing and equipments, and providing less uncomfortable quarters. Of course both railroads must be guarded and kept open, judiciously employing just so much force as is necessary for this. From these two points, Sedalia and Rolla, and especially in judicious co-operation with Lane on the Kansas border, it would be so easy to concentrate and repel any army of the enemy returning on Missouri from the southwest, that it is not probable any such attempt to return will be made before or during the approaching cold weather. Before spring the people of Missouri will probably be in no favorable mood to renew for next year the troubles which have so much afflicted and impoverished them during this. If you adopt this line of policy, and if, as I anticipate, you will see no enemy in great force approaching you will have a surplus of force, which you can withdraw from these points and direct to others, as may be needed, the railroads furnishing ready means of re-enforcing their main points, if occasion requires. Doubtless local uprisings will for a time continue to occur, but these can be met by detachments and local forces of our own, and will ere long tire out of themselves.
While, as stated in the beginning of the letter, a large discretion must be and is left with yourself, I feel sure than an indefinite pursuit of Price or an attempt by his long and circuitous route to reach Memphis will be exhaustive beyond endurance, and will end in the loss of the whole force engaged in it.
Your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
In the Field, Camp near Cornersville, October 24, 1861.
Brigadier General J. H. LANE, Commanding Kansas Volunteers:
GENERAL: In reply to your application this day received, I am directed by the general commanding to say that although your march to Montevallo would be beyond the line he has desired you to follow in co-operation with the movements of the main army, he assents to your wishes in order that you may dispose of the stores destined for Fort Lincoln, provided you keep him daily informed of your position and of what is transpiring near you, and that you join him on the parallel of Springfield, and also that you expedite your march so as to accomplish that junction without difficulty.
* * * * *
J. H. EATON,
Colonel, and A. A. A. G.