good as that of any corps in the United States. An increase of sickness at the beginning of the season, evidently caused by partial starvation, has awakened my profoundest regret. I believe you know that it is true when I say that perhaps no commander was ever more beloved by his men than I am by my Indian command. Acting under the inspiration I give them, they have attempted and accomplished almost impossibilities. They are suffering now, but they bear with a heroism that I admire, while it grieves me. That they should do so is no reason why I should continue to see them suffer. I would be utterly unworthy of the command I hold unless I uttered my most earnest protest and made every possible effort against the action of these men at Fort Scott, so damaging impolitic, and wicked; deliberately to starve a heroic command to death is surely the most culpable of crimes.
I understand that complaints have been made, or pretext raised, that I interfered with the trains, &c. Had I done so as a commander before the enemy, it was not competent for a captain or major and quartermaster to regulate or censure. As a question of fact, such complaints are simply ridiculous. there is not a man in all Fort Scott that feels as intense solicitude as I do about every ounce of transportation in my supply train. I ask of you, however and demand, if such charges are made, the strictest scrutiny into my conduct in the premises; and I ask of you General Blunt, for that command of which you might be proud, as well as I am, that it be saved from the recurrence of such calamities. While a separate commander, surely my orders about my supply trains ought to be respected. Out of the respect I hear you, and not knowing what embarrassments might present themselves as regards your affairs at Fort Scott, I have suffered as long as I can quietly suffer with honor. I have just been able, with 500 men and 13 wagons, to make a dash into Arkansas, driving back Cabell's forces and gleaning out 400 bushels of wheat and corn, which will be ground and here to-morrow, and will give me 12 ounces for six or seven days.
I send you this by my commissary, Captain [George S.] Gaylord, who will explain thoroughly the condition and necessities of my command. If necessary, I have directed him to proceed to Saint Louis, if it should be deemed proper after he sees you. Captain [Chester] Thomas, my quartermaster, also proceeds with him, to secure a better arrangement for the future. I did not desire them to wait for the train, for fear the misfortune of this last train should be duplicated, and the train again lie at Fort Scott long enough to make a trip.
I respectfully urge upon you that, if necessary, you will present this matter to headquarters of the department and the War Department. I have found it necessary to follow the trains and strip from them the horses and stock, which certain parties seemed to think these trains were sent into the Nation to steal. I have prevented gamblers and loafers from coming into the command and have punished the petty liquor venders who brought in liquor into this Indian command, to its ruin, if permitted.
With the deepest regard for the Government interests, I have done all this, and have done it with a hand of iron. If I have offended any parties by doing so, I think I can assure you that I have no desire to serve the Government a moment longer than I can do so honestly and with honor.
Believing that from you I will receive all the aid you can afford when the case is laid before you, I remain, with respect, yours, very truly,
WM. A. PHILLIPS