I had determined to pass through my district to induce the men to re-enlist who have not yet been in the service, but find it will take me away from here too long. I will endeavor to accomplish the same object by proclamations. I will endeavor to keep the field all winter.
Yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
[DECEMBER 27, 1861.-For Benjamin to Bragg, in reference to affairs in Missouri and Arkansas, see Series I, Vol. VI, p. 788.]
FORT THOMPSON, MO., December 30, 1861.
DEAR SIR: The guns, 32-pounders, arrived on the Prince. I would detain her and send up the guns required, but Captain Barney informs me the platforms will have to be entirely changed before the guns sent can placed in position. This would take longer than I would wish to detain the boat, and to send the guns without mounting these would leave the strongest bastion, and the one most certainly needed, dismounted, it being in the rear from the river. I therefore send the boat back. The guns sent just make up the complement for the fort, and as the platforms for the siege guns are already constructed, and as they are in position, I write this and respectfully and earnestly request that we be allowed to keep them.
That we are threatened here is beyond doubt. That it will require energy, caution, and skill to prevent a successful attack is unquestionable. Deprive us of these guns and we are weakened that much. I hope not to be understood as detaining the guns. We could not send them now without leaving their place vacant, and I hoped this letter might reach you and be answered before the change is made. If I get no answer by the time the engineer is ready to make the change, the guns shall be sent according to instructions. I hope, though, we may be able to keep them.
The horses for outpost duty are much needed. I am now sending the horses of my own and staff. The men of General Thompson's command who are left refuse to go out. He seems to place implicit confidence in the effectiveness of his men who have gone home for this kind of service. While I do not dissent from it to him, I must say to you, with deference and respect to him, that I do not, cannot, indorse or rely upon it. They are caught up every day, and they "take the oath" as readily as they do their grog. It is unheard-of to leave a port with no other guard against surprise than the voluntary aid of men asleep at their homes.
Last night I sent out a small party of cautious, prudent men. They are just in; report 13 of Captain Price's men captured night before last some 36 miles from here. Two hundred Federal cavalry near Charleston. If thrown upon my own resources I could keep very well guarded until the horses arrive.
This letter is written very hurriedly, but I hope I have made myself understood in the little I have attempted to say.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. W. GANTT,
Colonel, Commanding Fort.