War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0483 Chapter XVIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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Camp Ruggles, on Gasconade, Laclede County, Mo., Jan. 3, 1862.


Hdqrs. Southwestern Dist., Dept. of Missouri, Rolla, Mo.:

SIR: I sent off this morning a report by the expressman returning, giving an account of my operations up to last night. The party which I sent out under Colonel Lewis ran 60 of the enemy about 10 miles. They ate the enemy's breakfast, and took about 100 cattle, 30 sheep, and 50 fat hogs. Some of the cattle escaped. Being in a brushy country and driving in the night, the hogs could not travel. I shall have such as are fit for food killed for this command, and such as are stock cattle I shall send in, if practicable.

The expedition to Lebanon failed on account of a message having been sent from Cook's Mill, where we crossed the Roubideaux. There was no enemy found in town, but 2 men ran and were caught. The enemy has a hospital in town, where there were 1 wounded and 1 sick man-perhaps more.

The weather turned very bad yesterday evening, with rain and sleet-such weather as none but a soldier would be out in. I had a party ready to send toward Hartville this morning, but it was so very cold and bad and the rains had made the roads so bad that I did not send. One of my parties was at the house of Bowman, a noted secession captain, yesterday, towards Hartville, but he was at home, and very few men were at home, but there were many tracks of horses, mostly unshod, going west.

About 3 o'clock this afternoon some of my men, who were out getting forage, thought they heard cannon-firing in the direction of Lebanon. It seems very improbable, but the men stick to their story, and say that the woman of the house told them that she had heard that Price was going to attack us before 12 o'clock to-morrow. I have sent a party of 25 towards Lebanon to gain information and shall send out other scouting parties in the morning.

My greatest trouble is with this train, which, now that the roads are bad, can only move very slowly. The mules are weak and the drivers bad. Two scouts towards Springfield, who should have been here yesterday, have not returned, which looks bad, and I have received no message from you except the one started New Year's Eve. the duplicate arrived here to-day, having been nearly to Lebanon. He dow not satisfy me that he is all right.

I hope you will tell the quartermaster to send god men, and also to send our mail whenever a safe opportunity offers.

I have an escort of 20 men left back to escort up the doctor. They are all under the charge of Lieutenant Black, of my regiment, a member of the court-martial in Asboth's division. If the doctor is not coming I want my men.

I find that instead of being in Wright County, as my guide led me to believe, I am in Laclede, 2 1/2 miles from the line between it and Pulaski, on the Gasconade.

The enemy's guides are perfect and he is constantly apprised of all our movements, while my guides are bad and means of information uncertain. The enemy knew of our movements before we had been gone twenty-four hours from Rolla.

I have heard from the party sent to Lebanon. It had got 8 miles on its way from that place. Firing had been heard of small-arms in the direction of Chesby's Mill, which is 10 miles from here.