You must not go for the expression of opinion to the Union men of Saint Louis, who do not know what the needs of the interior are, nor yet such men as Judge Leonard, who is capable of forming an accurate judgment, because ill-health has confined him to his bed, almost constantly to his house, during the whole war. Ask such men as Major Gates, of Adair; Colonel Eberman and Major Bean, of Macon; Colonel Hayward and Major Hunt, of Hannibal; W. Casper, of Schuyler; W. Yeisir, of Audrain; W. J. B. Douglass, of Boone; Messrs. Lewis, of Glasgow; W. Orrick, of Saint Charles; any Union men, in fact, who know of what they speak, and you will find that my opinion and policy is indorsed by every one of them as the only safety for the district. Such, then, being the case, the question is simply, Shall a few hundred undoubted rebels, who have honestly earned hanging, be turned loose, to harass away and drive from the country thousands of quiet Union men, whose only safety is in the punishment of these men? Which is of most value, the peace and quiet of half a State or the personal liberty of a few hundred criminals?
As to the promise that their obligations will be kept, and your belief that they will, I can only refer you to the experience of the past, and point you to the million dollars of forfeited bonds, and the broken oaths of thousand of these men, to show you that such a hope is idle. I beg you will bring the whole matter to the serious attention of the general commanding, especially in view of the fact that I have at his urgent call reduced the number of troops in my district by four regiments within a week.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Northeastern District of Missouri.
HEADQUARTERS EASTERN ARKANSAS,
Helena, December 15, 1862.
Major H. Z. CURTIS,
MAJOR: I have the honor to inform the general commanding the department that, in obedience to his note of the 9th instant, I have ordered General Steele with his division of three brigades of infantry, and two regiments of General Blair's brigade (the Thirtieth and Thirty-first Missouri), and two full batteries and 600 cavalry, to be fully ready to embark on transports on the 18th instant, the time fixed by General Sherman in his dispatch to me when he would be here. General Grant also sent a special dispatch 80 miles by a cavalry escort to me, asking for the forces of Hovey's expedition, and also sending me a copy of General Halleck's dispatch to that effect addressed to him. I replied to General Grant before receiving your dispatch, fully anticipating your order, and told him I would send the full force of the Hovey expedition, and more, to the points indicated by him, and have them ready when General Sherman should arrive.*
General Sherman is now in Memphis, preparing to start for a point near the mouth of the Yazoo River. He brought 7,000 men from Oxford, Miss., to Memphis with him, and found two divisions there, making in all about 21,000 men, and he ask 10,000 men from Helena. The forces I have ordered to be in readiness will amount to about 11,000 men, which will leave me with less than 3,000 effective infantry and 2,000 effective cavalry and four miserable batteries, with 1,500 sick on
* See Gorman to Grant, December 13, Series I, Vol XVII, Part II, p. 406.