The cavalry force I sent out, under Colonel Bassett, in the direction of Washington, Hempstead County, Arkansas. They went as far as the Caddo Narrows, leaving a force there, and scouting the country for 15 miles below, going within 6 miles of Murfreesborough, and east of there some 20 miles, scouting the country clean as they went.
I also sent a scout to Hot Springs (Buckskins), and their report amounts to the following, which I think is correct, as it is corroborated by citizens coming within our lines: They say that Marmaduke had a force of 600 men in there on the morning of the 4th instant, they reaching there in the evening. Part of them were State troops. The report there was, they were going to attack Benton, where a small force of ours is stationed. Shelby and the rest of Marmaduke's forces are together, stationed at Okolona, on the Ouachita River. Both commands, it is said, have 4,000 men. They are deserting fast; their transportation is very poor. Colonel Dorsey is in the mountains between Benton and Hot Springs, and has 400 men.
The following is a statement of a prisoner from Marmaduke: He left Marmaduke's command, Thomson's regiment, Cabell's brigade, one week ago to-day, at Okolona, on Ouachita River, and reports 8,00 men, the combined forces of the various guerrillas and larger forces from Missouri. Price is 20 miles west of Camden, at Woodlawn, and has 6,000 men (infantry), and is building cabins and hauling in large quantities of subsistence stores. Kirby Smith is near Monroe, on Red River, and not recruiting very fast. Marmaduke has twenty-eight pieces of artillery. Monroe commands Cabell's brigade, and has 800 men and four pieces of artillery. Cabell in person has gone to Texas.
I have the honor to remain, yours, truly,
JAMES M. JOHNSON,
Commanding District of the Frontier.
Numbers 2. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Owen A. Bassett, Second Kansas Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND KANSAS CAVALRY,
Waldron, Ark., December 8, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to orders from Colonel J. M. Johnson, First Arkansas Infantry, at that time commanding troops at this place, I left Waldron at 8 a. m. on the 2nd instant, with 230 men from the Second Kansas Cavalry, and proceed in the direction of Mount Ida. Seven miles from Waldron, I took the left-hand road, crossed the Fourche la Fave, and bivouacked at the foot of the Washita Mountains, 25 miles from Waldron. Started the next morning at 1 o'clock and crossed the Ouachita, and arrived at Mount Ida, the county sent of Montgomery County, Arkansas, situated on South Fork of Ouachita, at 9 a. m.; 25 miles. Halted at Mount Ida, and sent out scouting parties. Sent Captain [J.] Gardner with 25 men south, toward Caddo Gap, 12 miles; Lieutenant [B. B.] Mitchell with 10 men west up South Fork 8 miles, and Lieutenant [D. E.] Ballard east, down South Fork, with 20 men, 10 miles, all of whom returned, reporting nothing worthy of note.