Missouri was authorized to raise under a special agreement with the President.
At first the organization was attended with much difficulty and delay, owing mainly to the want of means to provide for the clothing and subsistence of recruits when first enlisted. This difficulty was at length removed by a more liberal construction of the President's order, and from that time forward the organization progressed rapidly. The troops were placed upon active duty in the field in conjunction with the United States troops as fast as organized in companies, without waiting for regimental or battalion organizations. In this the best of all schools for instruction a degree of efficiency was acquired seldom equaled by new troops in so short a time. By April 15, 1862, an active, efficient force of 13,800 men was placed in the field. This force consisted of fourteen regiments and two battalions of cavalry, one regiment of infantry and one battery of artillery.
As rapidly as this force was placed in the field a corresponding number of United States troops were relieved and sent to join the armies then operating in the more Southern States. By this means most of the various districts into which the State was then divided gradually fell under the command of militia officers, and, as a consequence, my command was extended over about three-fourths of the State, comprising the northern, central, and eastern portions, with a force of about 16,000 volunteers, mostly cavalry, besides the militia force already referred to.
On April 10, 1862, the major-general commanding the department left his headquarters in Saint Louis to take command of the army before Corinth, leaving me with the brief, but comprehensive, instructions to "take care of Missouri." Previous to this time the victory of the army under Major-General Curtis at Pea Ridge and the activity of the large force still in Missouri had broken power of the enemy in the State, leaving it in a condition of comparative peace. Large numbers of the rebel army from Missouri had returned to their homes, and most of the guerrilla bands which had for a long time infested the State had disbanded or been broken up and captured. Under the humane policy then pursued most of these had been permitted to renew their allegiance to the United States and return to their homes as loyal citizens.
Our armies in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee had been successful; the Grand Army of the Mississippi was pressing the enemy before Corinth; General Curtis, with a formidable force, was approaching Little Rock from the north; Missouri was quiet, and there seemed no reason to apprehend any further serious difficulty in the State. On the contrary,everything promised a speedy return of peace and prosperity.
In compliance with an order from Major-General Halleck to send him "all the infantry within my reach," dated May 6, 1862, I at once forwarded all the infantry in the State, except a small force of Reserve Corps guarding the Pacific and Iron Mountain Railroads and two regiments of volunteers in the Central and Southwestern Districts too distant to reach Saint Louis before Corinth had fallen and the order had been countermanded. One regiment of the Reserve Corps even was sent to Pittsburg Landing, leaving me only cavalry to guard the long lines of railroads north of the Missouri River and a portion of the Pacific.
In the movement of the army under General Curtis after the battle of Pea Ridge a very large portion of the country south of the Osage