have been able to collect in this county is so small, I ordered them all sent home this evening, and more soldiers detailed for to-morrow. Smith's regiment, at Island Numbers 10, could be profitably employed here, and Colonel Gantt is anxious to have them.
A scouting party of the enemy (some hundred or more) came across Jones' Ford from Commerce last night, and captured several citizens and some of my men, who were at home. They immediately returned to Commerce or Cape Girardeau. I have not yet taken my moonlight ride, as none of the enemy are out of Bird's Point, and my scouts say they are expecting an attack hourly at that point.
Hoping that you will send a mustering officer, or send authority to act, I am, yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
RICHMOND, VA., December 20, 1861.
General STERLING PRICE,
Commanding Missouri Forces:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I have received, with much pleasure, your letter of the 10th ultimo,* with the inclosed correspondence. It was not needed to make me appreciate the difficulties and embarrassments under which you have labored nor the sacrifices and devotion displayed in the cause of Missouri and the South. For all this you have not only my thanks and those of the good people of your own State, but also those of the whole South. We here have not forgotten you; but, on the contrary, have been most anxious to give to Missouri all the aid in our power, and have been hopefully looking for the tender of troops from Missouri and Arkansas, to be organized into brigades and division under the laws of the Confederate States. We have at present no troops to give you except those under General McCulloch, and you are aware of their condition.
I was sorry to learn from Colonel Cooke that the term of service of your forces is for so short a period and that the term of enlistment of so many is about to expire. You know the disadvantage of short terms of service. Can you not organize a force for the war? So long as it lasts the people of the country in which it is carried on must engage in it; and, until our independence is recognized and peace restored, the only question should be, how can these ends be best promoted?
The agreement entered into with General Fremont was very desirable to us, and it is to be regretted that his removal has made the contract void.
You may rest assured that the welfare of Missouri is as dear to me as that of other States of the Confederacy, and that I will do all in my power to assist her in her struggle to maintain the common cause and to vindicate her freedom and sovereignty.
Accept my most friendly remembrance and assurances of my best wishes for your success and happiness.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
*See Series I, Vol. III, p. 734.