War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0820 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter XVIII.

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SAINT LOUIS, December 14, 1861.

Brigadier General JOHN POPE,

Commanding La Mine Cantonment, Mo.:

GENERAL: Your several letters on plans of campaign and criticisms on the selection of La Mine Crossing for a cantonment have been received, and, although very long, have been attentively perused and duly considered.

Your plans of campaign may be well adapted to the positions and numbers of the enemy as reported to you, but, judging from the information I am hourly receiving from other parts of the State, I do not think I would be justified in adopting them, nor do I think would have proposed them if you had been fully advised on the subject. Nevertheless I am very glad to receive your suggestions.

In regard to the selection of La Mine Crossing I have a few remarks to make. When I arrived here found the three divisions of your command at Sedalia, Syracuse, and Tipton -28 miles apart and not in sustaining distance. You yourself, as well as others, represented to me that these three places were each and all unfit for a cantonment, having no timber in their vicinity for making huts, the water being very bad (causing, as you said, much of the sickness in camp), and being exposed to the cold and piercing winter winds which sweep over these prairies. All expressed the opinion that the men must suffer terribly in tents, and all accounts agreed that the only place for putting them was in the vicinity of Otterville and La Mine Crossing. On these reports I sent Brigadier-General Sherman to examine into his matter, and be expressed the decided opinion that La Mine Crossing was the proper place for the troops, all things considered, and, indeed, commenced moving them to that place without consulting these headquarters. His orders were countermanded, and I sent Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson to examine into this matter. His report has been sent to you.

I have not acted hastily in this matter, but have taken the best advices I could get. Your letter of the 12th differs from all these advices, and, indeed, from the impression I received from my conversation with you. You certainly objected then to Sedalia on account of its exposure, its bad water, and want of timber for hutting. I would remark, in reply to one of your observations, that I have never ordered the withdrawal of troops from Sedalia; on the contrary, I have directed that they be left there till the last. Moreover La Mine has not been determined on as a permanent station for your command. On the contrary, I have distinctly stated that the troops might be required to leave that place at a moment's warning.

Your criticisms on the difficulty of defending Syracuse, Tipton, &c., from La Mine I do not fully understand. If your troops were at Sedalia, as you propose, would they not be required to pass through La Mine to succor the places mentioned? Why, then, could they not act with more efficiency for the purpose from the former the latter place?

General, your letters indicate a decided spirit of fault-finding and of a desire to place yourself in a position by various and conflicting suggestions to be able to say, in case of any disaster, that you advised differently. I am willing to believe, however, that such was not your intention.

If it should be finally ascertained that your estimates of the enemy's forces were correct, I may very well be blamed for not permitting you to attack and disperse them as you propose; but my advices from other sources differ very materially from your estimates. Price has nearly