HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE SOUTHWEST,
Batesville, Ark., May 31, 1862
Brigadier General E. A. CARR,
Commanding Second Division:
GENERAL: Yours in relation to an apparent approaching crisis, when we must fall back either for want of forage or because of overwhelming force of the enemy, is duly received. To get food and forage convenient now we would have to fall back very considerably, probably to Pocahontas, which is not a healthy location.
This is a good strategic point,but forage is very scarce. I have directed the quartermaster to buy wheat and oats by the acre for forage. Corn must not be pulled up. You and General Osterhaus must see to this. Men found feeling green corn should be arrested.
Pressing close on the enemy is of great importance in Arkansas and at Corinth. My best advices from Little Rock only confirm the report that force there is only from 3,000 to 6,000 indifferently organized Texans, with only a few Arkansians. Some more had ventured to move on this side, but I expect your dash forward on the 27th has driven them back.
There was at last accounts a gunboat at Little Rock and one at Des Arc, as I think to support garrisons at those points. If,as reported, the mouth of the Arkansas is blockaded, there is no way for the enemy to get an army this way, except it might be by Coler's Ridge.
The expedition down below Jacksonport found a small party, which was routed and 4 killed.
Bowen's expedition found the enemy near Sylamore, attacked and killed several (at least 10), took 25 prisoners, and are now bringing them in. We had 1 killed and Captain Anderson and another (Third Iowa) badly wounded.
I want that gunboat captured. It was unprotected on Tuesday last. It lay at the wharf in Des Are when the bank was so high it could not defend itself.
A party could move from West Point to the ford or ferry near the mouth of Bayou Des Arc, there station artillery, and send across infantry enough to dash into the boat. Night would be the time. The boat should then be run up White River or the ammunition for the guns should be thrown overboard or brought away. Confer with Osterhaus. I think that boat blockades other boats that might come up. If crossings of Red and Bayou Des Are were easy the affair could be easily accomplished, but the importance of the measure will justify investigation and considerable risk. Any reasonable move under cover of our artillery is quite safe, as the enemy has none that I can hear of except these gunboats. The Cache is a complete protection against large forces east of White River. It might be best to keep an eye on small bands between White and Cache;no considerable force of the enemy can come. Hence, if the gunboat can be got above the mouth of Red she is ours. There is a bar 10 miles bellow Jacksonport which she cannot pass. She ought to be run up to that point. I hear no move of the Indians. The Fifth Kansas hot to Houston on the 26th. We now have three regiments on that line and trains moving all right.
SAML. R. CURTIS,