War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0540 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter XVIII.

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HDQRS. SOUTHWESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI,

Lebanon, February 1, 1862.

Captain J. C. KELTON, Assistant Adjutant-General:

CAPTAIN: My forward picket are now located 37 miles from Springfield, and my scouts will continually approach much nearer. One arrived during last night, giving news direct from Springfield. All was quiet there; Price still occupying Mr. Graves' house, and no signs of running away. This was Thursday last, day before yesterday.

I am in receipt of the general's letter of the 27th, expressing the belief that Price will not fight, but retreat, and urging the return of Davis' division before his crossing the Osage at Linn Creek.

I cannot go on the presumption that an enemy that has heretofore so successfully fought and held Springfield will not fight for it now; although I think also, in the fear of a superior force, he may retreat.

I haver now in this vicinity about 6,000 men, and I am sorry to hear that my orders to move all forward from Rolla has not started the remainder of General Asboth's and Sigel's division before yesterday. Other forces which the general had ordered had not yet arrived at that point. At present, therefore, the Davis division is nearer, a nd if he crosses the Osage he may arrive before the Rolla force. He thinks it will take two days to cross it now; I think at least three. If, then, he stays on the north side, he is less accessible than at Rolla. As now situated, I cannot decide that his force is not "absolutely necessary;" but on the contrary I think it is. As fast as my force and supplies will permit I shall press closer on the enemy; but I cannot draw myself into a general battle till I get more force, and for active reconnaissance and supply gathering I am overworking the 1,366 cavalry, which is all I have in my command.

The supply trains that started about the 24th from Rolla are now beginning to arrive, and as fast as unloaded many will return to help forward other troops. They are getting on quite as well as I expected during the worst of weather. I wish the Rolla troops had started, as ordered, about the 6th; they would have got to this point by this time.

I find the men's shoes so miserable, they have worn them entirely out in six days' marching. Some of my force, too, are so improvident I have to constantly order and watch these items of necessity to keep them fit to move. It is peculiar to our service that officers seem to be satisfied when they publish without enforcing the execution of orders.

These little thinks had been especially and carefully itemized by me in a printed order, and yet shoes, cartridges, haversacks, and little necessaries are every day found wanting.

But in the main my force is in good health and spirits, and I trust the general will find them giving a good account of themselves. They contend with mud, water, and snow and ice manfully, and I trust they will not falter in the face of a more active foe.

I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,

SAML., R. CURTIS,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. SOUTHWESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI,

Lebanon, February 1, 1862.

General FRANZ SIGEL, Commanding Third Division:

GENERAL: Yours of the 20th, informing me of your return to Rolla, and that of the 29th, connected with the report of General Asboth