exaggeretion. I have been very relucant from my previous experience in this State to credit such reports, but they were brought from Lexington and communicated to me by persons of undoubted respectability, and asserted with such positive certainly that, altough not fully convinced of their truth, I could not without obstinacy refuse to credit them to some extent.
The plain facts are these; A few men detailed from each of the five or six divisions of Price's army made their way in squads of from 10 to 150 to the neighborhood of Lexington. They were never in the town at all, and did not number altogethe more than 800 or 1,000 men. The recruits they were sent up to bring down are largely estimated at 1,200, in rags, without arms, and without supplies. In their march to the south they picked up in all about 70 two-horse wagons. They fled pre cipitately as soon as they heard of our approach, and when the pursuit terminated, near Johnstown, it is to be doubted if there were 500 men and 10 wagons left together. Only 15 wagons crossed Grand River. The rebel force scattered as they ran; the wagons were driven into farm-yards, and the men, going in small parties, sought refuge in paths and by-ways. The cavalry reconnaissance throught Clinton, designed to cover our pursuit, drove in and captured the pickets of Rains's division, which is encamped this side the Osage, pursuing and capturing them inside the lines.
All information, both from the prisoners and from the people of the country, concurs that Price has not over 8,000 or 10,000 men, and that he is losing many more men than he can recruit. I have no doubt that if it were known that those willing to return home could do so without molestation, by taking the oath not again to take up arms or to aid or abet the rebels, a very large number of his men would leave him at once. I say this after examination of the prisoners and full communication with people of this section entirely acquainted with the condition of affairs in Price's command.
I do not, of course, know what are your views in relation to Price, but it is certain that as long as he ramains in this part of the country there will be excitement and more or less recruiting for him. Compel him to fly, and the inducement is at an end. I have no idea that, with any possible means of surrounding him, his force could be captured. They would disperse in all directions at the approach of danger, hiding their artillery in the woods and distributing their wagons among the farm-house, where it would be impossible to identify them. Operations against him as if he commanded and organized army must be futile. I have abundant force to drive his from the country, and should be glad to be allowed to do so.
My command will return slowly to Sedalia, and if you think it best will resume their positions at Otterville. I shall proceed there, and will probably be in Sedaliaa day after to-morrow. The whole region as far south as the Osage is in a just state of alarm from this expedition, and I think their rest north will not soon be troubled again by Price's people. The cavalry force I sent in advance encamped in Johnstown last night, and scouted the country south of Grand River on their return to within a few miles of Clinton. I should not be at all surprised to learn that the movement had caused Price to break up his camp and retreat south.
I am, general, your obedient servant,