In regard to Missouri, you had asked me to send forward some 10,000 more troops to General Grant at Vicksburg, on your impression that the Arkansas rebel troops had all crossed to Vicksburg and Port Hudson. I informed you I was withdrawing the forces from Houston and Batesville, Ark., to comply, but doubted the fact of Arkansas forces having crossed the river, and the expediency of weakening Missouri and Northern Arkansas until we have boats to take and hold the Arkansas River as a line of defense. Your reply of the 17th does not advise me further as to your knowledge of the departure of troops from Arkansas, but seems to argue the propriety of sending on the troops, and intimates that there is more than necessary in Missouri, as we have no enemy in or near the State.
You must admit, general, that when Hindman moved from Van Buren and attempted his move north, we had none too many troops there, and when Marmaduke moved on Springfield we had none to spare, and must justify his pursuit to Batesville by General Davidson's forces. We have driven most of the rebels beyond the Arkansas, and to keep him below that river we should have light-draught gunboats to move, as you very properly suggest, from the Mississippi base. In this I have always concurred, and always will; but, as I wrote you when I first arrived at Helena, we must have light-draught, well protected steamboats to operate with; and I now add we should not have to depend on the Navy for such necessary incidents to army movements. But, in compliance with your suggestions, I am ready to forward the force from the river and railroad near Pilot Knob, where they are ready to embark as fast as new necessary equipments and transportation can be procured. The march has been prosecuted through mud and continuous rains as fast as I could bring them forward. In view of my withdrawal of this force from the Arkansas line, I bring other force nearer a central position-Springfield-and hope the expedition up the Arkansas may be made soon, so as to allow that river to be made a line of defense for Northern Arkansas and Missouri.
In regard to the troops in Colorado, refereed to in your letter of the 19th, I had, on the 10th instant, ordered the Second and Third Regiments forward, being the earliest moment I thought it safe to risk a march across the plains. I leave the First in preference, because the colonel(Chivington) is the best man to command the district.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SAML. R. CURTIS,
IN THE FIELD,
Kansas City, February 26, 1863.
Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS,
Commanding, &c., Saint Louis, Mo.:
GENERAL: After four days of the hardest travel I ever experienced, I arrived here on yesterday. I have seen Colonel Penick. He is very decidedly of the opinion that if the Fifth Regiment is broken up (which has now become a necessity), and the fragments forced into other commands, they will render no efficient service, and I must confess that I concur with him in opinion. The movement, in my opinion,is a most unfortunate one, as are all such. Similar attempts have frequently been made to consolidate fragments of regiments, and in every instance such attempts, so far as I am advised, have proven most disastrous. It would be much better in every way to muster these men out of the service