my troops always ready, and have directed General Davidson to move eastward for the purpose of conforming to your wishes. A large portion of my troops are mounted, the better to get through mud, but the more difficult to transport by river. I cannot select infantry and artillery, as my forces are not near together, and by so doing I would destroy the organizations and the efficiency of the remainder.
In view, therefore, of the probability that the rebel force is still in the central part of Arkansas, and the danger to Arkansas and Missouri, and the difficulty of moving so far in time to be of use in Vicksburg, I most respectfully express my convictions against the movement. These frontier forces are our only reserves for contingent necessities west of the Mississippi, and, in my judgment, they should not be weakened. Things are very quiet now, but great fears are entertained of more trouble as soon as spring opens. I submit the matter, however, to your judgment, willing to make great hazards for success at Vicksburg. I send this by Mr. Chapman, a most worthy and reliable Union man, of this city.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
SAML. R. CURTIS,
HDQRS. 8TH AND 9TH DISTS., DEPT. OF THE MISSOURI,
In the Field, Camp John Ross, February 11, 1863.
Major- General CURTIS,
Commanding Department of the Missouri:
SIR: Up to date I have neither dispatch nor order from you since I received command of this department.
Lieutenant Phillips, Third Indian Regiment, who has just returned from the Arkansas River at Fort Gibson, having escorted a train of breadstuffs to the Nation,reports all quiet on this side. A portion of his command, 70 men, crossed the Arkansas River. Captain Lucas, Sixth Kansas Cavalry, has just returned from Illinois,* and the direction of Cane Hill. The guerrillas he was after retreated south, and he could not overtake them. I learn from scouts in the Nation that General Cooper has retreated to Boggy Depot, near Red River. Colonel Watie and Major Bryan have a command at Leaning Rock, near North Fork, Canadian River. The mules belonging to their transportation were dying very fast; 40 died in one night last week. I learn that they have driven up cattle and are yoking them up as oxen. They have driven the greater portion of their horses and ponies into Texas, and all their men are thus discounted except Butler's and Brewer's companies.
Opposite Fort Smith, in the cane bottoms, are 200 or 300 men, who do not desire to cross the river or join the rebellion army, but who have been in the rebel army, and are afraid of the loyal Cherokees. I have sent secret agents to them, assuring protection to those of them to whom it would be prudent to extend it. They are mostly half-breeds, or partially white men, but are disgusted with the rebellion. I do not think it would be advisable to enroll them in either of the two Cherokee regiments(Second and Third), but if a sufficient number come over, they could be enrolled in a separate battalion, and added perhaps to one of the new regiments. Fort Smith has not yet been re-enforced; there are the remains of five regiments there, guarding 1,500 sick and wounded.
*Illinois is a station on the railroad south of Cane Hill.