Colonel O'Kane also takes ambulances and supplies for my wounded at Prairie Grove.
On yesterday, during our interview, one of my officers notified me that men of your command were removing arms from the battle field. I called your attention to the fact, and you at once gave to Brigadier-General Herron, of your command, an order to prevent such conduct. This action of yours was perfectly satisfactory and proper, the field of battle being in my possession, and your offices and men being upon it only by virtue of the truce granted be me at your request. I hoped there would be no similar ground of compliant, but information has been given me that Brigadier-General Herron, the officer to whom you gave the order, did in person, at a part of the field where there were but few of my men and many of yours, require me men, who were there collecting arms, to lay them down, under a threat to arrest them, the arms so taken from my men numbering between 50 and 60. I request return by the bearer of this.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. C. HINDMAN,
[Inclosure Numbers 2.] Major General T. C. HINDMAN, Commanding Confederate Forces:
GENERAL: Your communication of December 9, under flag of truce by Colonel O'Kane, is received. I had badly already sent to the surgeon in charge of the Confederate hospital 5,000 rations complete, for use of your wounded, and had tendered the use of my ambulances to send them to such place as they might select as a general hospital.
In response to your complaint of General Herron's men gathering up the arms upon the battle-field, I have the honor to inform you that you have an entire misapprehension of the nature of the flag of truce referred to. It is true hi sent a surgeon with ambulances to your lines by you. This is a privilege I would not deny an enemy, even during an engagement, without being accompanied by a flag of truce.
It is true, however, that you seized upon this extent pretest as the occasion for sending me, under flag of truce, three communications, the last one asking a personal interview. This, as I then suspended, and as has since proven satisfactory to be the case, was to enable you to make good your retreat, which was commenced early in the might, the precaution having been taken by you to tear up your blankets and muffle the wheels of your artillery, that you might move stealthily away.
I had no other intention than that my ambulances should return before morning, and expected to renew the battle at daybreak. Had I not ascertained the fact about daylight, previous to your requesting an interview for the purpose of making arrangements to care for the dead and wounded, that your forces had stolen away during the night, I should not have granted it, but would have attacked you at early dawn, notwithstanding that your forces, occupying a strong position of your own choosing, outnumbered mine as three to one.
That you should claim the right to carry off the arms from the field by the men you had detailed, under flag of truce, to bury your dead, is not only simply preposterous, but very ridiculous.