HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, February 17, 1863.
Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS, Saint Louis:
GENERAL: Your letter of February 11 has been received and submitted to the Secretary of War.
To operate from Rolla, Springfield,or Ironton against Western Arkansas is bad strategy at any time, and almost an impossibility in the winter season. The only grounds in justification of your movement in that direction last winter was the presence of Price's army in Missouri and the complete blockade of the Mississippi River below Cairo. When that river was opened to Helena and the mouth of the Arkansas, the plainest principles indicated that all operations in Arkansas should be based on the Mississippi. The advantages of this plan are obvious:First, in securing beyond the possibility of a doubt our control of that river; second, in the facility of supplying our army; third, in placing it between the enemy's force; fourth, in cutting off the enemy's supplies of arms, clothing, &c., from one direction and of provisions from the other, and, fifth, in having our forces in position to operate on the Lower Mississippi and open its navigation to the Gulf. This is not merely my opinion; the plan was some time ago discussed and approved by the best military men in our service. It was for these reasons that I disapproved your bringing troops from Helena last summer to operate from the interior of Missouri against Arkansas, and it is for these reasons that I have opposed your retaining so many forces in Missouri, and have so often urged you to send all that could possibly be spared down the Mississippi. There is no enemy in Missouri nor near its borders, except guerrillas and small detached forces. Retaining forces sufficient to hold a few important points-say, Springfield, Rolla, and Ironton-against raids, all available forces should operate from the Mississippi. With our army on their flank, no large army of the enemy would ever attempt to move from the Arkansas River into Missouri. If they should do so, their capture would be certain. On the contrary, we may defeat the enemy a dozen times on the western border of the two States, and our victories, like those of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, be with dent, for reasons of his own, has repeatedly ordered that all available troops in your department be sent down the Mississippi. It is your duty, as well as mine, to carry out these instructions. The orders which have been telegraphed to you have not designated how many troops you were to retain in Missouri; that question is left to your judgment and discretion, under the responsibility which any officer incurs when directed to send all available troops upon a specified point.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, Mo., February 17, 1863.
Colonel WILLIAM A. PHILLIPS,
Camp John Ross, near Indian Territory:
COLONEL: Your letters concerning the Indians have been duly received, and after laying them before General Blunt, and giving him my views, which generally concur with yours, I have sent them to headquarters, Washington, with a request that hey be laid before the In
8 R R- VOL XXII, PT II