War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0454 MO., ARK.,KANS., IND.T., AND DEPT.N.W. Chapter XXV.

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HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, ARMY OF THE SOUTHWEST, Camp on Village Creek, Ark., June 28, 1862.

Major H. Z. CURTIS:

MAJOR: I have the honor to inclose a dispatch just received from General Benton.* I wish to be instructed by the general commanding in regard to the questions propounded by him. I had no orders to proceed beyond this point with my command. General Benton has with him the Eighth Indiana Infantry, Thirty-third Illinois Infantry, First Indiana Battery,and two companies Ninth Illinois Cavalry, Shall I join him with the rest of my command, order him to remain there with his present force, or order him to fall back? It is my opinion that we should advance far enough at least to enable us to forage on our flanks or rear. Considerable damage has already been done to our escorts to forage trains, while the enemy have sustained comparatively but little loss. This may be due in a measure to bad management of officers commanding escorts, but these affairs have been repeated so often with the same results, that I think different measures for procuring forage should be resorted to.

I have instructed General Benton to remain for the present where he now is and to retain the rebels who came with flag of truce until further orders. There is a doubt in my mind whether Confederate troops who are associated with guerrillas and fire upon our trains and troops from the bushes,making good their escape by paths unknown to us, are entitled to be treated with the consideration due to a civilized foe.

I shall retain the baggage train belonging to General Benton's command until the commanding general's answer is received. Please send a messenger or supply mine with a fresh horse.

Our loss in the skirmish last evening is more serious than I supposed. Lists of casualties will be forwarded as they are officially reported to me.

Colonel Brackett's report is just received and inclosed.+ Colonel Bussey has not yet sent in his report.

FRED'K STEELE,

Brigadier-General.

HEADQUARTERS SOUTHWEST DIVISION, Springfield, Mo., June 28, 1862.

Brigadier General JOHN M. SCHOFIELD,

Commanding Saint Louis:

By telegram I have informed you of the condition of affairs in this division, but a more full report by mail will enable you to understand better our position. The necessity of constantly threatening the camps in Arkansas to prevent them from moving into the State and the want of forage is wearing out our horses very fast. The First Battalion First Missouri Cavalry and First Battalion Sixth Missouri have about 250 men dismounted. The Fourteenth Missouri State Militia will require 150 horses to mount it properly. The field return of the Fourteenth Missouri State Militia and Tenth Illinois Cavalry shows a bad state of things in those regiments. Thirty nine men in the first absent without leave is a large number; 103 horses unfit for service in a regiment that has done no service and been in the field but a few days is a large number.

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*Not found.

+See p.134.

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