power to carry out your further expression: "The great object now is to open and hold the Mississippi."
When I came to this command General Schofield had moved nearly all the troops to the southwest portion of this State, leaving two pieces of light artillery and some 2,000 troops about Pilot Knob. I was at the same time assured by the general that about 40,000 were invading the southwest and 8,000 or 10,000 the southeast. I thought these numbers were overrated, but cautiously arrayed forces to repel or remove whatever might be in the way. One month has transpired since, and the southwest is cleaned out. The southeast moves slowly. I had to draw from Helena, as you had suggested to General Schofield by letter of the 18th September, for I had no other force except that which General Schofield had moving with him, and he was urging me to send him more. I did not like to weaken Helena, but Pilot Knob was much weaker and forces were moving against it. I preferred to venture a depletion at Helena to death at Pilot Knob. I hope to save both, certainly Pilot Knob, and most likely Helena also. I have stopped the work on four of the Springfield forts, and advised General Schofield, after driving the rebels beyond Boston Mountains, to fall back to the region of supplies nearer to Springfield with his main force, leaving General Blunt, who defeated the rebels recently at Maysville, to go into the Indian Territory, clean that out, reinstate Indian refugees, and hold both the southwest corner of this State and the Indian country; all which I think he can do when he gets some accession of forces which are now moving to aid him from Fort Scott.
If I can get General Schofield back to the region of Springfield I shall draw troops from that region to aid the down-river movement, for I shall be glad to share the glory of that achievement. All the troops now arriving I am moving down the river. Only one regiment has gone; another goes forward to-night. More are promised, and I shall continue to work to your plan. I am greatly in need of good arms. Regiments arrive with worthless Prussians, and have to stop to change or repair. We ought to have immediately 10,000 of each kind, infantry and cavalry, ready to supply wants and defective arms that are reported. Cavalry arms - revolvers and carbines - are much needed. Some of the cavalry that has been a year in the field is only half armed, i. e., they have revolvers without carbines, or carbines without revolvers. I have urged these matters through Colonel Callender, who assures me he sends forward my requisitions without success. I also need small cannon to use on steamers and railroads and with cavalry. Little mountain howitzers and similar pieces have been used by me to great advantage. A hundred such pieces could be used with great convenience in arranging a river movement. Two little howitzers should be on the upper deck of every boat that runs on the Missouri and Mississippi. They are quite safe with these, but they are in danger without them. I have asked for enough to guard the boats that carry my supplies. If they are not on hand they should be made immediately. After are indispensable. The loss of two steamers - yes, the loss of one steamer loaded with stores - would cost more than a hundred such guns.
I know you must be overwhelmed with business, and I therefore try to avoid troubling you, but these matters are immovable without the exertion of higher power than mine. The Ordnance Department should not be behind. It costs nothing to keep arms, but men and horses and boats on these rivers without arms are worse than useless; they are an expense and an incumbrance.