soldier has left Helena, but it has been re-enforced by two divisions. There are now there 25,000 men.
Except the regiment for the defense on the fortifications on the Lower Arkansas knit White Rivers I have but 6,000 infantry to defend this valley. The distance to Vicksburg is 300 miles, with no supplies on the road. I could not get there in twenty-five days, and all would be lost here before I could return.
I beseech you to answer this at once.
TH. H. HOLMES,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT, Little Rock, Ark., December 5, 1862. (Received December 23, 1862.)
General S. COOPER,
Adjt. and Insp. General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Since the receipt of your first dispatch, desiring me to send 10,000 men to Vicksburg, the enemy have made two strong demonstrations on this frontier-one from the northwest, in which General Hindman's cavalry division were driven back 14 miles from Cane Hill, Ark., leaving the enemy in possession of that part of the State and half the Cherokee Nation, to reclaim which General Hindman is now advancing with his entire force; the other, form Helena, with 9,000 me, on the Post of Arkansas, was made by land and water. It failed because the low water prevented concert of action between the two intended attacks. This expedition is the force that General Pemberton supposed had left Helena. It returned there three days after, and since then Generals Steele's and Osterhaus' divisions have been added to the garrison, where there are now not less than 25,000 men, with sixty pieces of artillery. To oppose this force I have 2,500 to defend the fortifications at the Post of Arkansas and at Saint Charles, on White River, and twelve infantry regiments, numbering about 6,000 fighting Bluff, on White River.
This was the precise state of affairs when your telegrams of the 28th and 29th reached me this evening. If I withdraw the infantry as directed there will be nothing to prevent the enemy's coming to Little Rock. The whole valley of the Arkansas will be stampeded, and the political party which has constantly cried out that the country is deserted by the Government will pave the way to dangerous disloyalty and disgust. Besides this, if this river goes, the entire trans-Mississippi region goes with it, for the country between this and Red River is denuded of supplies, and the valley of the Red River is so crowded with slaves, carried there from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, that it is doubtful whether its abundant crops will more than feed its population for another year.
Under these circumstances, and with the greatest reluctance, I hesitate to obey your last order, because it presupposes the safety of this river; besides this, I could not reach Vicksburg in less than thirty days, as I should have to carry my supplies, and the streams, now much swollen, would sauce delay that could not be avoided, the distance being over 300 miles and the troops unaccustomed to marching. I believe my information is certain that it will not be attacked until the army in Mississippi is destroyed. For this purpose they have landed immense