as the nucleus around which "Old Pap" would gather an immense army of Arkansas and Missouri patriots, with whom he would march triumphantly to the Missouri River and establish the authority of Jefferson Davis over all our fair heritage. Price has insisted upon an immediate push toward Rolla. Marmaduke says he has had enough of Missouri. Price believes that the people of Missouri very much desire his advent among her oppressed people. Marmaduke don't believe any such thing. Price believes that thousands would flock to his standard could he but once unfurl the Confederate flag on the banks of the Missouri. Marmaduke declares that his experience in Missouri teaches him that Missourians are not desirous of Confederate protection. Price and Marmaduke, with about 25 officers of their commands and numerous citizens, among them Polk and others, are in session this very day at Jacksonport. They are to look over the ground and decide upon the summer campaign. Marmaduke's forces are scattered from Jacksonport to Mount Vernon, near Saint Francis River, his headquarters being at Taylor's Creek. His force numbers about 5,000, with ten pieces of artillery. Dissertations on civilized warfare have been passing between his command and this. Price has three brigades at or near Devall's Bluff; they aggregate about 5,000, with eighteen pieces of artillery. There are about 1,000 Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri horse thieves banded under one Colonel Dobbin, a notorious brigand, who refuses to be restrained by orders from anybody. I do not think there is any other force of moment north of the Arkansas River. Kirby Smith has gone toward Alexandria with all other available troops. I do not believe that Price's convention will conclude to move anywhere in force until the siege of Vicksburg is ended. If Grant crushes Pemberton, as he must, then there will be a grand skedaddle for Texas. In the mean time, in small parties, they will harass our lines, fire upon steamers, and annoy us generally. A rebel success at Vicksburg would encourage Price to go northward, of course. Whether he visits you or turns his attention to us at Helena, he will receive the attention befitting his position. Somebody will be hurt.
Many deserters are coming to our lines. They represent great despondency among both citizens and Confederate soldiers. A quartermaster and major, who has been with General Holmes the last year, has just arrived at this post, and at my headquarters renounced "the world, the flesh, the devil," and Jeff. Davis, and, with his wife and children, with uplifted hands, renewed their allegiance to the Stars and Stripes.
If Vicksburg and Port Hudson fall, we have but little fighting to do west of the Mississippi River. If we could hang Price and twenty others (catch them first), I believe the masses might be easily brought into the old fold, by encouraging all who, "with hearty repentance and true faith, turn unto" "Father Abraham." Let the returning prodigals be met with open arms and with welcome even, when they shall have done works meet for repentance, and have forsaken those who have led them into riotous living, poverty, and husky diet with the swine.
Then pity, Lord! O Lord, forgive!
Let a repenting rebel live.
The news from Generals Grant and Banks is encouraging. May the good Lord grant us a speedy victory and an entire squelching of the rebels in the Mississippi Valley, and then we can go "forward to Richmond."
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CLINTON B. FISK,