the force I telegraphed General Gray was at Pocahontas. My couriers, 28 miles south and 15 miles on the Van Buren road, all report rumors of large force advancing; they are in now, but start in a few moments. Enemy will strike either at Rolla or this point; doubtless here, as the other country has no forage. I have 200 mounted infantry and 18 cavalry. I can rely on them. I will have three hours' notice of their advance, and will obstruct the roads. I have everything ready, and, if pressed, will retreat to Strong Battery. I have every confidence in the command. On a false alarm to-day, they formed, mounted, in three minutes. They will sleep on their arms, which are good. I have dispatched Colonel Glover. The town, 1 mile from here, is encircled on the approaches by a cordon of sentries. Owing to last night's heavy rain, I deem it impossible for artillery to be brought over the Saint Francis. I cannot learn their force. I will dispatch you at 12 m.
H. L. McCONNEL,
Major, Commanding Post.
HEADQUARTERS SAINT LOUIS DISTRICT,
March 23, 1863.
Commanding Cape Girardeau County:
Has the telegraph line been started to Bloomfield yet? Send the following by express to General McNeil:
A regiment of cavalry has been ordered to Poplar Bluff, on the west side of Saint Francis. If Marmaduke comes up, keep yourself advised, and get in his rear; if possible. I want you to report if a road cannot be made to New Madrid from Bloomfield; also from Bloomfield to Poplar Bluff.
Glover will command the column on the west side of Saint Francis, when it moves. The cavalry regiment leaves to-morrow, via Patterson.
J. W. DAVIDSON,
CAMP AT BLOOMFIELD, March 23, 1863.
Commanding District of Saint Louis:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that from my scouts and spies I get information leading me to the conclusion that Marmaduke is not on this side of Pocahontas, if he has ever left Batesville.
Lieutenant Poole, who has been with a party beyond Pitman's Ferry, found Reves, with his guerrillas, 12 miles beyond the ferry, acting as advanced pickets. Captain McClanahan and Lieutenant Poole each killed a picket, Poole getting his horse shot.
There are about 1,000 men at Gainesville and Scatterville, on Crowley's Ridge. They are badly armed and scattered, in order to subsist. I shall beat up these quarters early this week.
I called on Colonel Livingston for help in the way of infantry. Finding soon that I would not probably need it, I notified him. I thought if Marmaduke crossed the Saint Francis in large force, while my movements of artillery would be impeded by lack of horses, he might cut off my communications with the point of supply, by getting between me and the Castor. I have now found I can prevent that. You will see the report of an observation of the road by which he must come. If he crosses the Saint Francis, my point is well indicated, and