PILOT KNOB, MO., April 24, 1863.
GENERAL: Colonel Smart communicates that the enemy broke up their encampment in Fredericktown before his approach, and moved 3 miles out on Cape Girardeau road, where they formed, but had not encamped.
Smart then retired to the Saint Francis bridge, and awaits orders. He believes this is the same force he encountered at Patterson, and that it does not exceed, at the utmost, 10,000. I have now available 2,500 cavalry and twelve pieces of artillery. Shall I move against the enemy at Fredericktown or nor? The flag or truce is just leaving. I can move to-night, and attack in the morning, if your order it, giving the truce party the night to return here in.
Major-General CURTIS, Saint Louis, Mo.
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, ARMY OF THE FRONTIER,
Pilot Knob, Mo., April 24, 1863.
GENERAL: My latest intelligence from the enemy is up to 8 o'clock this morning at Fredericktown. Colonel Smart had approached within sight of the town, and found his pickets drawn in to the east side of the town, on the Cape Girardeau road. The colonel was reconnoitering the town, and I am in momentary expectation of further news from him.
From my examination of the approaches to this place, and from the best information I can get, I do not think an enemy would venture to attack us by the direct Fredericktown road, as a very small force, with one section of artillery, at the shut-in, 4 miles from here, can prevent the approach of almost any force.
If this locality is to be attacked from the direction of Fredericktown, the attack will come by the road from Farmington, which can be intersected about 10 miles from here by a route from Fredericktown, or the enemy, if he seeks the best road for travel, might even come round by Farmington. Nine miles from here we strike a point on the Farmington road, which is only 6 miles Iron Mountain, over a good road. I infer from your dispatch of last night that infantry are on the way down, to be left at Iron Mountain, which is, I think, the best point to post them, for, should I ascertain that the enemy was advancing in force, I would not hesitate to move to meet him at the intersection of the road from here the road from Iron Mountain to Farmington. Before this reaches you I shall probably have communicated other intelligence by telegraph.
I inclose a rough sketch of the country,* which I think more accurate than the maps as to roads. If further information from Colonel Smart is satisfactory, I will move on the enemy rapidly with my cavalry and artillery, but I would like the infantry you speak of sent to Iron Mountain quickly.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier General J. W. DAVIDSON, Saint Louis, Mo.
* Not found.