Steele's command is definite, and dates up to the 30th of November. I received it from four men, who just arrived from Boggy Depot.
The country over which I traveled is for the most part mountainous and rocky; still, the roads are passable for artillery and army trains. Water is abundant, even in dry and hot weather. At least one-half of the farm horses are deserted, and a large portion of those now inhabited will (judging from the feelings of the people) be deserted before spring. Forage is not abundant north of the southern boundary of Montgomery County, although there is a sufficient quantity to subsist small scouting parties for some time to come. But I should consider it impracticable to forage an army between here and Caddo Gap or Centre Point for a longer period than would be required to march that distance.
The Little Missouri Mountains are the most difficult to pass, and I am informed that west of the road leading from Little Rock and Arkadelphia there are but three passes by which an army could be moved: First, on the road leading from Hot Springs to Washington, 12 miles east of Caddo Gap; second, Caddo Gap; and, third, on the road leading from Dallas to Centre Point. The last crosses over the mountain, and is very rough, running down a rocky creek bed on the southern slope. The Caddo Gap road runs along the bank of Caddo Creek, and passes the mountains without elevation.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
OWEN A. BASSETT,
Captain C. G. LAURANT,
Numbers 3. Report of Major John M. Harrell, Brooks' Arkansas Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS BROOKS' CAVALRY,
December 5, 1863.
MAJOR: On Thursday, the 2nd instant, I started a scout of 25 men, which I did not refer to in my dispatch of yesterday, to Caddo Gap and Mount Ida. On Friday, 2 p. m., the scout met Lieutenant Hurt, of Head's company, consisting of 30 or 40 men directly from Mount Ida, 10 miles this side of Caddo Gap, who reported no Federals at Caddo Gap and none at Mount Ida, and no talk of any. Afterward the scout met 2 men who were just from the gap, and heard of no Federals. Proceeding on the march, with 6 unarmed men in front (who had been arrested from Hunt's company as deserters from the infantry, at the instance of Captain East, in compliance with orders from division headquarters, Captain East having accompanied the scout), about an hour by sun on Friday evening, within 5 miles of the gap, they were met by a party of Federals, who fired on and immediately routed them, with a loss of 7 missing. One of the men of the scout who was taken prisoner made his escape soon after his captured. He reports that, upon being disarmed, he was permitted to keep his horse (run down), and captors, went on and left him. Of this party he counted 25. Upon seeing the front of another column of Federals following on, he took to the woods and escaped. The pursuers were all dressed in full Federal