HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE NORTHWEST,
Milwaukee, March 30, 1863.
Colonel J. C. KELTON,
COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of the letter of the Secretary of War, of March 24, to the Secretary of the Interior, in relation to troops for the Upper Missouri.
I am assembling at Sioux City and Fort Randall 2,000 cavalry and eight companies of infantry, with a battery of mountain howitzers. This force includes the regiment of Nebraska cavalry, which, as I am informed by telegram from the General-in-Chief, has been ordered to report to me at Sioux City, direct from the headquarters of the army. These forces will have assembled April 15, and by May 10, the earliest moment at which the grass on the plains will subsist the animals, they will move up the Missouri against the hostile Indians. This expedition is designed to be simultaneous and to act in co-operations with a similar expedition, somewhat larger, which will move from the Upper Minnesota in the direction of Devil's Lake. I had intended to send a third expedition up the Big Sioux to unite with the Minnesota expedition near Devil's Lake; but the refusal of the Indian Department to take charge of the Indian prisoners captured last September deprives me of the use of so large a force to protect them against the whites in Minnesota, that I am not able to command a sufficient force.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, ARMY OF THE FRONTIER,
Camp at Carrollton, Ark., March 31, 1863.
Major General JOHN M. SCHOFIELD,
Commanding Army of the Frontier,
Saint Louis, Mo., or where his headquarters may be:
I reached here yesterday, and found the rebel force farther from here than I expected, say some 30 miles toward Yellville. I have sent an expedition after them, who will make a night march, and come upon them from the south to-morrow at daybreak. The Union people here are in a deplorable condition, robbed of everything, and the men secreted in the thickets to save their lives. The guerrillas who traverse the country shoot every Union man they see mercilessly. A proposition is made to me to countenance the raising an independent organization of citizens (Union men). They feel confident that if I will sustain them a few days, until they are collected, they can hold the country; otherwise they must all abandon it. They cannot bear the idea of entering the service generally, and thus, perhaps, be carried from their homes, leaving their families at the mercy of these murderous bushwhackers. The operations of the enemy's guerrillas in Arkansas are far more vindictive and remorseless than anywhere else under my observation. These independent organizations could ask no further aid from you than ammunition and, perhaps, guns, if possible; everything else they will provide themselves, and ask no pay. If the department would authorize them, and afford the slight aid I mention, I believe they would effectually hold Missouri and Arkansas, as they would rise up in every county. I have thought the matter of sufficient importance to telegraph to you, as I cannot remain here very long, and if the above suggestion is not adopted, I will be compelled to take with me every Union family.