War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0382 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV

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little accustomed to the hardships of a march. From all experience, therefore, by the time he reached Abercrombie his effective force would be reduced to 2,300 men at most. I have no information which leads me in any way to the belief that General Sibley will encounter any less force of Indians than was supposed from the beginning. On the contrary, last advices (and they are certainly as late, and quite as reliable, to say the least, as anybody else can have) represent the Indians as still concentrated near Devil's Lake. This expedition was organized throughout by General Sibley. He has passed his whole life in Minnesota,and knows Indian character well. He conducted the successful campaign of last autumn against the Sioux, in the midst of the same carping and fault-finding. He has time, and it has been his business (to which, I know, he has devoted all his time and energy for months past) to inform himself thoroughly of the intentions and force of the Indians, and of the necessary means and modes of conducting a successful campaign against them. I have received letters from him several times since he commenced his march. I have seen no reason from them or from anything else within my knowledge to occasion any suspicions that he has been mistaken in his preparations, or anticipate any interruption to the course he had marked out. Surely, under these circumstances, it may be fairly presumed that General Sibley understands his business as well at least as anybody else does. I do not consider it judicious to send him any orders on the subject. I am very sure that if circumstances occur which will enable him to dispense with any part of his force, he will do so without requiring orders. I shall send him a copy of your dispatch and of this letter, so that he may be fully advised on the subject. The reports in the papers concerning his expedition are, no doubt, as untrue as newspaper reports usually are. I have received nothing from him which in the remotest degree justifies such stories.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.


Chalk Bluff, Ark., Sunday, July 19, 1863.

Lieutenant JOSEPH T. TATUM,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 1st Cav. Div., Dept. of the Missouri:

SIR: For the information of the general, I have the honor to report that to-day I laid the pontoon bridge, having first pushed across the river by swimming above a reconnaissance of 50 men, who found nothing but some citizens and one man only watching the crossing. This latter got away before they could capture him. Merrill's Horse, the two batteries of artillery, and the infantry are on the other side. The Seventh and Eighth will move across early in the morning. I find on the other side, where I am now encamped, a very strong natural position, of which I send a rough sketch.* We have captured 2 prisoners of the enemy, one who says he is a deserter and willing to enlist, probably a spy; the other is one of Kitchen's men, who was out hunting his horse; also a field-forge and its appurtenances complete, which was left concealed in the woods by Marmaduke, probably. From the most reliable information, Kitchen is about 12 miles southeast of Gainesville, with some 500 or 600 men; one company armed with Enfield rifles, the rest (who are armed) with shot-guns and squirrel rifles. About one-third of the whole are not


*Not found.