then had. I cannot see why the rebels were allowed to stay twelve or fourteen hours within 3 miles of them, and then move off, and cross the Saint Francis River unmolested. I cannot see why this was done. Everything went on right; the moves were rapid, and the connection fine until Bloomfield was reached; then the thing appeared to move badly. I cannot see why the commanding officer should stay at Bloomfield and his command go to Chalk Bluff, 45 miles distant. General, you have tried hard to get these rascals, but somehow the thing stops when activity should begin. I cannot tell why. It all may be strategy, but such strategy will never destroy the rebels in Southeastern Missouri. General, you have tried harder to put down marauders in Southeastern Missouri than has ever been done by any commander with the means you had at command, but your plans have not been pushed forward by others with the energy and promptness they should have been. This is what I think about matters, and you know we always talk plainly abut these matters. I will be off in a few days; I am determined to destroy the powder-mills on Eleven Point River, and I think I will get several jayhawkers in my rounds. I am not strong enough here to go to Pocahontas now. We have heard that Colonel Livingston is to pass through here with a brigade of United States soldiers of African descent. I would be very glad to see this. I want to make a flank movement with him, if he should come. I would be greatly pleased to see the Southern chivalry subjugated by the African. We are drilling every day. We have our quarters well fixed up, and stables for nearly all of our horses. We are doing finely now, and will do so, if you and the rebels will allow us to stay here.
Your obedient servant,
W. T. LEEPER,
Captain, Commanding Post.
FORT SMITH, ARK., December 9, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: A sense of justice to myself, as well as duty to the Government, prompts me to address you directly in reference to my present position. About the last of October, when upon the eve of leaving Fort Scott for this place, I received General Orders, Numbers 118, Department of the Missouri, copy of which I inclose.* This order made it imperative that I should be relieved at Fort Smith, and, having no means of communication with General McNeil, I therefore moved immediately to this place, with a large supply train and all the available troops at Fort Scott, continuing to exercise the command of the District of the Frontier until I should be relieved by my successor at the place designated in the order. On my arrival here, I found that General McNeil had assumed command seven days previous to my arrival, and while I have acquiesced in this action, yet I have never formally relinquished the command. There is no difficulty or misunderstanding, however, between myself and General McNeil. On the contrary, there being much dissatisfaction manifested throughout the Army of the Frontier at the action of the department commander, I have availed myself of every opportunity to inspire it with confidence in my successor and strengthen his hands for usefulness.
Upon my arrival here I received your letter of the 30th of October, authorizing me to organize the Eleventh Regiment United States Colored
*See order of October 19, 1863, p. 666.