Salem, the other to Pilot Knob, via Centreville. Meantime,while the main supply trains are feeding and foraging us,the division supply trains, of 50 wagons each, carrying twelve days' subsistence, are kept parked and untouched at our new position, ready to move to White River when you give the word;the reserve ammunition the same way. This is a mobile army, and I will keep it so. The cavalry will be kept out ahead, examining the roads, making forays, &c.
I see Pocahontas lies in the route you have laid down for me,and I might as well accept it at once. All the information,therefore, that can be gotten about the proper line via Van Buren and that point will be gotten. Pocahontas is the head of navigation of Black River, I believe.
I asked, by my aide, Lieutenant Gray, telegraphic permission to come up for two days, while my division are taking up their positions. I can be spared, and my health really requires even twenty-four hours' relaxation. If a movement occurs, I can overtaken, and my division commanders are trained now to take care of themselves.
I am glad you sent me Colonel Stone. I had trouble with Kinsman's regiment before; now I have none. I found Stone a ready soldier and a gentleman, and I put the Iowa people in one brigade, the "Iowa Brigade" under him,and he manages everything, to my great relief.
I am, general, most truly, with high respect,
J. W. DAVIDSON,
HDQRS.8TH AND 9TH DISTS., DEPT. OF THE MISSOURI, In the Field, Camp John Ross, February 6, 1863.
Commanding Department of the Missouri:
SIR: Up to date I am still without dispatches or orders from you. My purpose has been to keep the enemy across the Arkansas River, to demoralize them there as much as possible by secret agents, and to feed the destitute and starving people of an overrun and war-ridden country. So far all has gone well. I have been very active cleaning of the bushwhackers, who might assail our transportation in the spring, and endeavoring to restore the doubtful to loyalty. The result, in the latter way, is also good and hopeful.
There is nothing now to hinder a forward movement to the Arkansas River but subsistence. There the country affords none; here it keeps all my force busy to secure it and to do the other necessary work. If I had the 200 wagons taken from the line of Fort Scott transportation, and had in them the supplies that they and what I have could carry, I could go in four days to Fort Smith,take and hold it, or to Fort Gibson, before the enemy could re-enforce it; throw up earthworks there or at Fort Gibson,reach into the Indian Nation clear to the Texas line, and be ready, when a larger army comes into Arkansas, with such leader as might be sent, to co-operate with him, starting from the line of the Arkansas.
If the 200 wagons could not be obtained, I could get on with 100 more. If the Department of the Interior moves the refugees, as their agent proposes doing, all I need is fifty or sixty days' rations to hold the line of the Arkansas until the middle of April, or later, or until a heavy army could take the field and grass teams carry our supplies. I am now ready for such a movement, but unless your order it I shall not run forward and then run back for bread. With the supplies I speak