HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE SOUTHEASTERN MISSOURI, Camp at West Plains, January 31, 1863.
Major H. Z. CURTIS,
MAJOR: I have the honor to report the concentration of the troops composing the army at that point of yesterday. Warren's troops, from Houston; my own,from Alton, flanking the supply trains, and the supply trains from Van Buren, via Thomasville, all reached here within a few hours of each other.
I have sent up for shoes. The paper soles the contractors now furnish render their frequent renewal a matter of vexation.
I have sent wagons to Houston for the subsistence stores left there, and a train to Rolla. I have put the troops on half rations, filling up the balance with what can be gotten from the country, and very little it is. I have drained the country from Pilot Knob to this point of cattle and corn.
An expedition sent by me into Arkansas, to the Stubbfield Settlement,down on Eleven Point River, failed to get many cattle. We cannot remain here long; we must keep moving for forage.
My people are in good hear,and ready for your orders, but, I must confess, this problem of food, over such roads, has put some gray hairs in my head. Through a rich country it would be easy, in spite of the roads, to bring out results; but South Missouri! your army went through part of it, and it is worse now than then. I sent, by Colonel Boyd, a suggestion to the general that it would be well, while in the Rolla District, that I should have command of it. My trains could then run to Houston as a base, my supplies being directed from Rolla to that point.
Refugees just in from Arkansas confirm the report brought in by Colonel Waring that Holmes has ordered all citizens who claim to live under Southern rule south of White River. I send Waring with a brigade of cavalry to Batesville, supported by a brigade of infantry and four guns as far as Salem, and may be Evening Shade. I have confidence enough in his adroitness. He brings, beside the reconnaissance, all the horses and mules (which we need now very much) and cattle he finds upon the road.
I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
J. W. DAVIDSON,
SPRINGFIELD, MO., January 31, 1863.
Cannot transports with supplies be sent, under convoy of gunboats, up Arkansas or White River in time to meet us a Little Rock of Batesville? My force, Warren's, and Davidson's would thus be in position to assist the army before Vicksburg or elsewhere on the Mississippi River. I believe the rebel force in Arkansas has all gone in that direction. is it not possible for us to join in the final struggle for the Mississippi? Pardon the suggestion.
J. M. SCHOFIELD,