HDQRS. DIST. OF NORTHEAST MISSOURI
Warrenton, Mo., January 29, 1863.
In compliance with Special Orders, No. 24, current series, Headquarters Department of the Missouri, Brigadier General Thomas J. Mckean, U. S. Volunteers, has assumed command of the district.
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By order of General Thomas J. Mckean:
HARRISON A. GLEIM,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, January 30, 1863.
Brigadier General J. W. DAVIDSON, In the Field:
GENERAL: I am in receipt of two dispatches, giving satisfactory news of your movements and purposes. I think we must rely on the Pilot Knob route as the proper line of communication to Batesville. By keeping pretty near Black River our lines is protected on that flank, and, moreover, we can unite operations with that river, which is navigable a considerable portion of the year. Besides,the road to Rolla is naturally just as liable to cut up and become bad, and also has a vast deal more of crossing streams than we have on the Pilot Knob road. Then, again, we have the old telegraph poles on the Pilot Knob route, and I very much want your connected by the wires. If these arguments are good in the main, do not abandon the Pilot Knob route, except it may be temporarily, till the Houston route is also cut up, as it certainly will be, after using it during these rains. If necessary, let us have more work done on the road, but I suppose at present you have had enough of this. Study the proper line from Van Buren toward Batesville, in view of all I have now said, and let us have the wires following you as fast as possible on what we will at all times consider the main road to Jacksonport and Batesville. After Warren reaches you, a dash on Batesville would be a good move. You would gain nothing by delay there. Till we get the boats to hold the rivers, some movements with cavalry and light artillery beyond your main reserve will make the rebels fear, and our friends feel your power and presence. Gunboats went up White River to Des Arc and the Arkansas to Arkansas Post, but the Vicksburg matter is deemed of primary importance, and everything now moves in that direction. Pending that affair, yours will now be my advanced army, and I hope you will have everything ready to unite with the boats, if they come again into White River. If Hindman is at Oil Through Bend,which I doubt, he may try to fight you for forage, &c. He has, with Holmes' force, a much stronger army than he had at Prairie Grove, and would be too strong for you. Pilot Knob would be your proper place to fall back upon, if he should attempt to move upon you with superior force. But you will carefully study the matter. I hardly think he will dare to come on this side of White River with a considerable force. My last advises place him near Little Rock, he having retreated from the vicinity of Fort Smith to that quarter. I can appreciate your trials in the wet season, and commend your efforts to procure means for self-reliance. I shall do all I can to aid you and strengthen you, and remain, general, very truly, your obedient servant,
SAML. R. CURTIS,