leave to mention my imperative wants. That of horsemen I have already adverted to; but when you are informed I have but ten days' bread rations in camp, and no supply nearer than Saint Peter, nearly 50 miles distant, you will perceive unless speedily provided for I must fall back for lack of provisions. I would suggest that a quartermaster of your staff be at once dispatched to Saint Peter with funds, and with full power to use them in sending forward hard bread and other rations at once, in order to prevent such a retrograde movement. That can only be done by such prompt action as that for which you are distinguished. I think the best plan would be, after having taken measures fro a few days' supply to forward instantly and at any cost, to make some arrangement with the stage company, who have abundance of horses, to place them on the route from Saint Peter to the scene of my operations in the field, and transport hard bread and other rations so rapidly and so regularly as to preclude all fear of failure for the instead. The command are in great need of blankets and warm clothing, except the Sixth Regiment, which has just received its quota, and is therefore comparatively comfortable. The Seventh are without overcoats, with a few exceptions.
You need not be told, general, that to make soldiers efficient in the field, especially at this late season of the year, they must be well fed and clothed. With 50,000 received at Fort Ridgely, after my departure to-day, I have about 80 rounds of cartridges per man, so that I have enough for the present; but more should be sent as soon as possible of caliber 58 Springfield-musket size. The season for active operations in the prairie will soon be brought to a close for the lack of forage for the animals, as after the first heavy frost the grass affords little or no nutriment. Forage is not to be found at Fort Ridgely, and efforts should not be spared to have enough to transport necessary current supplies, so that you cannot depend on my being able to send back from the field any of them. Other means must be promptly provided, and also sufficient escort for the trains, for I cannot weaken my sufficiently small force by sending back detachments fro that purpose.
I prefer to lay waste and destroy the Indian farms, with all the crops which I cannot make available for the use of my force. I am anxious for the safety of the many white women and children held captive by the Indians, but it is difficult to say how they can be secured. I shall do all I can for them. I will endeavor to save what I can of the Government property at the Indian agency, but I know not how I can send any such to Fort Ridgely. I have given you sufficiently in detail the situation of things here hastily and with little regard to forms. I hope you will act at once; indeed I feel assured you will do so.
Your plans, as presented in your dispatch, of sending a large force to strengthen me and to move upon the Indians from other points at the same time are admirable, and I only fear they will partially fail by reason of the lateness of the season and the difficulty of organizing expeditions on a large scale with new troops before the cold weather sets in the prevent military operations in a prairie country.
With the assurance that I will do all in my power to chastise the miserable savages who have devastated the frontier, and to bring the expedition to a successful issue, I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. SIBLEY,