and paroled prisoners from Vicksburg and Port Hudson. This is exclusive of the troops under Taylor and Walker, in Louisiana, and those under Steele and Cooper, who attacked Waldron a short time since.
The redoubt now being constructed here by Captain Wheeler, Engineers, will be completed in about a week. As soon as the Arkansas becomes navigable, I am credibly informed that the country between here and the Washita will be impracticable for even horsemen, Saline bottom being over 2 miles wide and quicksand. The road between here and Benton is now very bad, and will be entirely impracticable. I therefore recommenced that the posts now occupied by our troops be held by the Arkansas troops now raised and being raised and a part of our cavalry, and that an expedition be sent from here, by water, up the Washita, to co-operate with Banks' troops sent up the Red. It appears to me that by this plan we shall be able to drive from Arkansas all organized bodies of rebels.
Last year the people of Arkansas were induced to commit themselves to the cause of the Union, and were afterward abandoned to the mercy of the rebels. I hope that no plan may be adopted which will give these people (the majority of whom are loyal to the United States) good reason to complain that they have been twice deceived by the promises of Federal commanders.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
PRIVATE.] FORT SMITH, ARK., December 12, 1863.
GENERAL: Yesterday morning Genera Blunt sought me out at General McNeil's headquarters, and, in the presence of the latter officer, Mr. Hutchison, Lieutenant [Joseph T.] Tatum, and some other gentlemen, told me that he knew I was here as your representative, with the design of attending to him (Blunt). I replied that his offensive manner compelled me to decline any conversation with him. He then said he would like to facilitate my business, and in order to do this would read me a copy of a letter he had lately written and forwarded to Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. This letter he then read in the presence of the gentlemen I have named. The letter denounces you as a liar, an imbecile, and a coward. He declines obeying your orders, and distinctly affirms that he will not report to you. The letter is most shockingly indecent and offensive, and the Secretary of War is not the man I take him for if he does not hurl it back into the teeth of its author. After reading the letter, he publicly denounced you in the same strain; boasted of having once beat your confirmation, and of being able to beat you again; asserted his intention of writing your "record," &c. To all of this I replied determinedly and defiantly. Without losing my temper, I sought to give him "a Road for his Oliver," and to sustain you as an officer, a gentleman, and the commander of this department. I told General Blunt his letter was an outrage on all decency; that he had much better obey your orders; that he never had beat your confirmation and never could. General McNeil told me last night that he was as much shocked at General Blunt's conduct as man could be, and that it was difficult for him to refrain from expressing his indignation. The idea of selecting headquarters for such a vulgar display he also regarded as almost personally