Welfley's battery is in great need of horses, as many have died from the battery. In case of necessity, General McNeil will move the heavy guns with mules or oxen.
The Fourth Missouri, as usual, complain that they have nothing at all to march on, and are the most abused of men. It was with difficulty they could be gotten away from the Cape. The other troops are well supplied for the most part.
From the most reliable information, it is ascertained by the general that Marmaduke is at Pitman's Ferry, on Current River, with 4,000 men and nine pieces. He was compelled to abandon the idea of crossing at Chalk Bluff, as General McNeil destroyed a very large ferry-boat which Marmaduke was building, and a very large supply of bacon and corn which he had stored at the ferry. Hence he has gone to Pitman's, 53 miles below Greenville. The evident intention of the rebels is to get into the bottoms between here and Chalk and Poplar Bluffs, which are now very rich in corn. There has also been a great deal hauled in to the roads from the neighboring country, evidently for the consumption of Marmaduke's army, thus showing plainly that his intention must be to get in there so as to live, his army being now in an almost starving condition.
General McNeil sent his adjutant last evening to reconnoiter between here and Poplar Bluff, so as to see if it is possible for us to occupy that position, and dispute with the enemy the passage of Black River. If it is, General McNeil will immediately occupy there. The adjutant will also encounter the enemy's pickets, and capture some, so as to obtain information of their numbers and movements. In case of an action taking place here, it would seem to me that I could be of much more service to General Davidson by remaining on the spot and taking part, that I might report personally what takes place, than by returning now, while matters of such importance are going on. I consequently take the liberty of remaining here a few days, until I see what preparations are made and how matters are conducted. If an engagement is imminent, I will remain and take part, unless otherwise ordered. The troops are in good health and spirits.
Matters at Cape Girardeau are much improved; as a citizen there informed, me, they have stepped, in one day, from purgatory to heaven. Confidence and good feeling are restored.
Awaiting such orders as the general commanding may have to communicate, or the transpiring of important events at this post, I have the honor to remain, captain, your obedient servant,
T. S. CLARKSON,
Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp.
HDQRS. 8TH AND 9TH DIST., DEPT. OF THE MISSOURI,
In the Field, Camp Moonlight, Ark., March 20, 1863.
Commanding Department of the Missouri:
SIR: For forage and other necessaries, I moved from Bentonville, 16 miles southwest, to this point; am a little nearer Fayetteville; can reach the Nation more easily, and am able to run Hildebrand's Mill, 20 miles west, the only good mill left in the Nation. I stationed three companies at Hildebrand's, where the Indian soldiers are throwing up some small earthworks for its defense. It is in the pine region, about 50 miles from Fort Gibson. The mill is a saw-mill, and I expect to get the lumber