I desire leave to come to Saint Louis about the 1st of April. I want to arrange my military family as a brigadier, of which I only have newspaper intelligence; to get my commission, and attend to some important private matters, such as breaking up my house establishment for my family to go East, on account of my wife's health, and the consequent sale of my furniture. I would also like to confer with you about what ought to be done for the defense of this country, and the disposition of force for the better protection of it. Many things might be explained in an interview that are not so easy to explain [in writing.]
General Gustis promised me a respite from duty as soon as matters were settled in this quarter. If he is still in command, I doubt not he will grant it. If not, I respectfully ask your kind intercession with his successor. You know, should the state of things require it, I can be back here any time in from twenty-four to thirty-six hours. If leave is granted, please notify me, via Cape Girardeau, by telegraph, and much oblige one who has the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Expedition.
CAMP AT BLOOMFIELD, March 24, 1863.
Commanding District of Saint Louis, Mo.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your telegram of yesterday. It came this evening from the Cape, by the messenger of Colonel Livingston. I notice the assignment of Colonel Glover to the west side of the Saint Francis, and will put myself in communication and act in concert with him.
Your orders in regard to Marmaduke will be obeyed. But I fear that he will not come until Price's army is organized, when Missouri will be invaded at her least defended point, be that where it may. I think this is the only direction in which they can get bread or forage.
I send an officer to-morrow to survey the road across East Swamp and Niger Wool to New Madrid, via Piketon. By inquiry from citizens, I learn that the turnpike, or rather corduroy road, has been washed away in many places, and needs repairing, and that bridges and culverts are in the same condition. The road from Piketon to New Madrid is tolerably good, running through a sandy country. To New Madrid this route is about 45 miles. I have no doubt that the road can be put in order soon. One hundred of the contraband negroes that I notice as occasionally arriving at Saint Louis could be well employed on the roads hereabouts, or even double that number.
Toward Poplar Bluff I have a company of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, engaged in repairing bridges, culverts, and mending road this side of the Saint Francis. I will direct the turnpiking of a bad piece of bottom, of three-quarters of a mile, and the rendering of the ferry-crossing easier and safer for teams. Lieutenant Poole reports that a mile of turnpike at the Black River will make the road good from the Saint Francis to the bluffs.
We have had heavy rain for two days, and our floating bridge at the Castor was broken by the drift last night. We lost only a small piece of it, and will have it all right for our next supply train.
I start a party of 250 for Arkansas to-morrow, under Major Torrey (a good leader), and a strong party, with a howitzer at the bluff, to cover