vanced position, and also your exertions to provide, as far as in your power, for the unfortunate loyal Indian families that have been dependent upon the Government for sustenance. I shall necessarily have to leave the details of the disposition of the forces under your command to yourself, having full confidence in your judgment and skill to conduct their operations for the best interest of the service.
The main points that I desire you to keep in view are, briefly, these: That the country to the Arkansas River must be occupied at the earliest day practicable, which will be as soon as grass is sufficiently raised to sustain animals. It is important that this movement be made as soon as possible, in order to prevent the organization and concentration of the rebel forces that have been temporarily disbanded, and to facilitate the raising of the two new Indian regiments, the officers of which I have ordered to report to you, and are now on their way. The greatest obstacle in the way of an early movement will be want of subsistence, as it will be difficult to get a supply train down to the Arkansas River before grass, and our transportation here is rather limited at present. I shall, however, do the best I can for you. You should not detain any of the wagons from the supply trains, but have them unloaded and returned promptly. Captain Insley will probably be able to send 140 wagons the next train. You must economize in the matter of rations as much as possible. It is better the command be placed on half rations(except beef) for a short time than that there should be any delay in occupying the country.
In moving your forces south, you must provide for protecting your flank and rear and supply trains. A small force should be kept at Maysville and such other points as may be deemed advisable; for this purpose you can use the Arkansas troops. I will endeavor to have a force sent to Neosho to relieve the troops their belonging to your command, and I shall send a sufficient force of white troops to Fort Smith to occupy that post as soon as they are placed at my disposal. You will encourage and facilitate the organization of the loyal men in Western Arkansas. All will be received who offer as infantry, and must be organized in accordance with law and existing orders. A mustering officer will be sent to you as soon as one can be procured. In the mean time recruits can be enrolled and sworn, and then muster will date back to time of enlistment. I will urge the payment of your command with as little delay as possible, and endeavor to have them paid up to last of February, 1863.
Colonel Coffin has made arrangements for taking the refugee Cherokees back as soon as the country is occupied by troops; has provided seeds, farming implements, &c. I think it advisable that the refugees locate and form for the present season, at least, in colonies, and at such places as may be selected as depots or military posts. This will afford them protection, and enable the Indian soldiers to assist in cultivating a crop when not otherwise engaged. I would suggest Tahlequah and Park Hill, Fort Gibson, and Lewis Ross' place as among the points suitable for occupancy. It is also desirable that you put some of the salt works in operation at an early day, and manufacture sufficient salt for your command and the loyal people.
Keep me informed frequently of all your movements, and matters generally in the Indian country and Western Arkansas. I shall leave here for Fort Leavenworth on the 12th instant.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. G. BLUNT,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.