the posts. This will show an aggregate of over 8,000 troops, but I fear that a strict inspection would not find half that number for duty, exclusive of the Indians.
I find Steele and Cooper directly in our front, and driving in our pickets within 12 miles of this post. Their force is variously estimated at from 4,000 to 6,000 combatants. They are moving over to occupy the country about Waldron, where there are abundant crops of wheat and corn. I am compelled to drive them out, and must do it with infantry, as I have scarcely a squadron of cavalry to move from this place. The Second Kansas Cavalry are scattered on all duties, until there is scarcely the shadow of a regiment at headquarters. I am told that the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, at Van Buren, can scarcely put 200 men in the field, and these are needed for collecting forage and subsistence for the post to which they are attached. I shall, however, order them here, and direct the use of infantry for that purpose. The subsistence of the troops in this district has been drawn entirely from the country since the day of occupation, and in order to keep the wheat and corn near us, for our own use, I am moving a strong party under Colonel Cloud, to-day, to drive off the enemy under Steele and Cooper. We have salt and sugar, but are entirely out of hard bread, coffee, candles, and soap. The service also requires all kinds of quartermaster's and ordnance stores, including arms for the new regiments and ammunition for all arms. Many of the recruits of the old regiments are without clothing. I have immediately and urgent need of the following assistance, and hope it will be furnished me: An assistant quartermaster-general of district, an assistant commissary-general of district, an inspector and a mustering officer, and an engineer of fortifications and topography. I also hope that Captain Laurant may be at once relieved from the Southwestern District of Missouri, and directed to report to me. I know it is his wish, and regard his services as indispensable to the introduction of order here, where order is so much needed.
In prospect of open communication with Little Rock, and to protect our bread supplies, I deem it important to at once seize and hold Waldron, about 40 miles south of this place. I have directed Colonel Cloud, when he has driven Steele and Cooper, to occupy that place. It will take much time and labor to put the troops-if they are all like those of this post-in a state for effective service; but it can be done with the proper help, and I shall work diligently to that end. These irregularities are in no way chargeable to Colonel Cloud, who has acted in a most energetic manner, and with a strict regard to the public interest. He has taken grave responsibilities, but he was compelled to do so or allow public interests to suffer. His position has been really embarrassing; with officers refusing to recognize either his rank or authority, he has been constantly trammeled in duty, and the wonder is that he has done so well. You, general, understand this matter, and if his status can be fixed beyond cavil, I shall regard it as a service due a deserving officer.
I have to state that, on leaving Southeastern Missouri, when wounded, last spring, I left my cipher in the hands of my acting assistant adjutant-general, who claims to have handed it to another gentleman serving with me; at any rate, I have neither cipher nor key. Will you cause each to be sent me? The officer in charge of raising the Second Arkansas Infantry reports 350 recruits at this post, and as many more at other points, some of which are in rear of the enemy. Colonel Cloud authorized Lieutenant-Colonel [E. J.] Searle to raise a Third Arkansas Cavalry, and they have 400 recruits here, and more reported in the