From the facts then before me I thought it best for you to move forward and join General Pillow and command at Benton. I supposed you could do so without danger to your command while in transitu, and when you had made the junction you could the judged whether it might be expedient to move still farther forward, or whether it be better for the whole command-your sand that of General Pillow-to fall back on New Madrid, and take up such positions on the river on both sides, on the line of Island Numbers 10, as might promise the best for defenses.
Since then I have come to the conclusion that the same object might be accomplished without any risk to your command, by your falling back from Greenville and passing to the river over the planed road to Point Pleasant.
At all events I am satisfied you should not go forward, but retire towards your base until we are all better prepared for a forward movement.
If the working of he saltpeter mines on White River was not an object of the greatest consequence to us, I should repeat the advice given in my dispatch by Colonel Borland to abandon your lien altogether. I did not remember those mines when I wrote you, and do not think to would be well to open the line from the interior of Missouri upon them. They ar our chief dependence for the material for making powder, and should be protected by an adequate force some where in the neighborhood. The object of keeping that force there may not and ought not to be known; acquainted as you are with the country you can judge of the force required for that purpose, and when that is left on that line, my opinion is that the rest of your force should be on or near the river, somewhere in the region of Chalk Bluff and New Madrid. Of this latter disposition we can speak when you are more at ease than at present.
In my last dispatch by Colonel Borland I gave my reason s from the opinion I expressed as to the expediency of your going forward. Of their weight, in view of your knowledge of the strength of your command and the difficulties before you, your were left to judge. If I had possessed the information I now have I should have advised you retiring as I have done above. I hope, therefore, this will reach you before you shall have made a forward moment, and that you will be able to fall back without inconvenience to your command.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding Second Department.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT Numbers 2,
Memphis, Tenn., August 26, 1861.
GENERAL: Your dispatch of the 25th* has just reached me. Its contents cause me to recur to the views of mine which I submitted to you and the council of your officers at New Madrid, and from which views I with reluctance turned aside from insisting upon by the information I then received of the diminution of the enemy's strength at Cario, I then received of the diminution of the enemy's strength at Cairo, Brid's Point, and Girardeau. Of the expediency of the movement, notwithstanding the diminution of this force and the fact that Island Numbers 10 had bee seized and fortified, I have never been entirely satisfied.