the commissaries to Fort Gibson. Forage is gone. If we do not organize the Indian forces south of the river in the next few weeks, the enemy will. I propose moving the Third Brigade on the Illinois River, where there is seven or eight days' forage. There is wheat there to make two weeks' bread for my command, which I shall move to Hildebrand's Mill, Cherokee Nation, to grind. The mill is 35 miles from Tahlequah and 50 miles from Fort Gibson. My train of commissaries is due, and will arrive from Fort Scott within a week.
I am on short, half or less, rations of everything but bread. We do not suffer. I have plenty of flour made here. My train (brigade) was always, and is, worthless.
The enemy want to get possession of Northwestern Arkansas to conscript in it. Should I fall back, the Arkansas force we have will be greatly in peril, and the enemy will conscript where we could recruit. Difficulties are great, but I will try to hold unless ordered out. It would undoubtedly be a great misfortune to evacuate Arkansas. I would rather risk something. I could strike at the river in a few days, prevent them from organizing, and send my commissaries to Fort Gibson, so as to organize the Indian forces south of the river before the rebels get there. I want orders.
WM. A. PHILLIPS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, March 4, 1863.
Brigadier General JAMES CRAIG,
Commanding District of Nebraska:
GENERAL: I am in receipt of two letters from you of the 23rd ultimo* in relation to the Indians, one proposing a spring campaign and the other mentioning a pursuit of the Utes and the fight of Captain Allen. The order of General Halleck moves the Nebraska regiment to Sioux City, and renders it quite useless to consider the matter of the first letter. I do not know the object of the Sioux City move, but suppose there is danger of n attack from the north by the Sioux Indians. Pope probably wants the regiment in his department, and secures it by this order. Great prudence with the Indians must be practiced. I am bringing most of the troops away from Colorado, and you will, therefore, have but a slender force to depend upon. The great effort is to crush out the rebellion as the first thing. Meantime we must make the best possible use of what we have to keep the overland route safe. Every year renders it more important.
I telegraphed General Halleck, asking that you might retain two or three companies to take care of settlements in the Northwest, but have not yet received a reply. I think he will consent, but you must hire teams and push the remainder over. Let them go where grain and other forage can be had most abundant. It will probably be best to move over into Iowa, at Omaha, and pass through the settlements, but you will exercise your discretion as to this. It is not necessary that the detachments should be united before reaching their destination, as they can probably get better accommodations by going in separate commands.
I am, general, very truly, yours,
SAML. R. CURTIS,