HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, Mo., December 19, 1862.
Brigadier General W. A. GORMAN, Helena, Ark.:
GENERAL: I have just received three letters from you relating to special movements, which I have read with care, but must answer very briefly. All my movements now are in reference to others, which bear upon the force at Helena. The down-river move must be arranged so we can send at any moment about 12,000 troops to Vicksburg without any intermediate delay. My old affection for a post on the island of Armagedden must be matured and accommodated at another time. My Arkansas movements will require the Helena force to move directly west, up White River, I suppose, and trains and boats will have to co-operate. Further particulars will be explained by Colonel Chipman. As to new batteries, I have been urging more and better for the last three months, in vain. Not a gun has been sent to this department, and we must make the very best of what we have. The ordnance bureau is the most immovable affair on this continent. Very recent dispatched from General Sherman seem to call only for infantry in the down-river expedition. If so, it will leave a better force for interior movements, where cavalry and artillery are necessary and can be used even in surplus numbers. But by this sending away infantry only, we must be embarrassed in the proper organization. Blair's brigade has been promised to him as a kind of specially, but other troops may be arranged, as far as possible, to suit the requisition of the down-river commander, who will desire more infantry. I do not understand how General Hovey gets away so easily. General Osterhaus will soon be here to join you. He will desire his General troops as far as the service will admit, and I hope your organization will accommodate him as far as possible.
I am, general, very truly, yours,
SAML. R. CURTIS,
PILOT KNOB, December 19, 1862 - 8 a. m.
I arrived here late last night from my reconnaissance. Forced up this way by the unprecedented high water, and out of supplies. The bridge at Black River, built by Benton, is swept away. I have selected Van Buren as the depot, instead of patterson, and also as the point of crossing on Current River; and the army is now moving forward to that point. I intend supplying it by the way of Centerville and Barnesville. It is a better road; is the old State road from Saint Louis to Van Buren; is 16 miles shorter than by Patterson, and saves two bridges and one ferry. I shall build a good ferry-boat at Van Buren, as there are two saw-mills near, and timber plenty. I shall keep my cavalry at Barnesville until ready to move, as that country is rich in corn. The new route has the advantage of not being stripped of supplies. The Black River was a great obstacle on the Patterson route, but is now crossed where it has three forks.
Cannot Warren move on to Eleven Points when my troops reach Van Buren? I send up my inspector-general, Major Lippert, with my map, who will explain in person better than a report. Gray tells me you said his regiment could go with me if you had a good one to replace it. I will exchange the Twenty-third Iowa, of my command, for it, as I