SAINT LOUIS, MO., January 3, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
I have no artillery regiment at Saint Louis. A battery is being made ready to send down to New Madrid. I have only infantry enough to guard prisoners, and about 200 old men to guard forts. I suppose you have my dispatch of this morning.
SAML. R. CURTIS,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE FRONTIER,
Fayetteville, January 3, 1863.
Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS,
Commanding Department of the Missouri, Saint Louis, Mo.:
GENERAL: I cannot suppress a feeling of surprise and disappointment that my statement of well known facts of great importance to the interests of the service were received by you in the spirit manifested in your telegraphic dispatch of yesterday.
I expressed my belief that the wiser of two arrangements between which it seemed necessary to choose very soon, if not immediately, would be to leave General Blunt in command of his district rather than of a division in the field, and gave as a reason for my belief,"The operations of the army since I left it have been a series of blunders, from which it narrowly escaped disaster, when it should have met with complete success. At Prairie Blunt and Herron were badly beaten in detail, and owed their escape to a false report of my arrival with re-enforcements." Desirous not to appear as gratuitously censuring any officer, I added, "I state this simply as a fact which it is my duty to let you know, without intending to pass censure upon any officer. This it would be improper for me to do without seeing their official reports, which I have not," and I might have added, probably will not, as they are made to you and not to me.
In reply, after speaking of "errors" and "shortcomings" in my official report lately submitted to you, you say "I note also what you say of blunders which transpired in your absence under General Blunt and Herron. I do not perceive, as you intimate, any necessity of your anticipating their own reports of their intimate, any necessity of your anticipating their own reports of their own affairs, which,in due time, I trust they will do more fully than they have yet done."
From this language I must conclude that you regard it as no business of mine that I find on my return my command cut up and demoralized by a most stupid "series of blunders," and that "their own reports of their own affairs" alone are to decide whether it will be wise or unwise to retain officers of my command in their present positions.
You cannot fail to recollect that I have uniformly spoken of Generals Blunt and Herron in terms of commendation; that after the battle of Prairie Grove I expressed only regret that their success had not been as complete as I could have hoped for, and that both before and after that battle I expressed not only a willingness, but a desire, to leave to them the opportunity of gaining whatever of laurels were to be won by this army. Now, when better information has compelled me to modify my former opinion, and I suggest that the good of the service would be promoted by leaving one of the officers named in command of a district rather