from your command on the west of the river for the command of General Price, whom it is the desire of the Department to transfer as soon as existing necessities will allow. I hope that telegram reached you; but, both to guard against mischance and to possess you more fully of the wishes of the Department on this subject, I address you by letter likewise. It has long been contemplated and desired by the Department to transfer General Price, with at least his Missouri troops, across the Mississippi, but unfortunately the exigencies of the service have constantly presented obstacles to the removal. The consequence has been much dissatisfaction and some distrust among the Missouri troops, and it is feared that General Price himself had conceived the idea of injustice done him. It has, too, been a constant subject of complaint and misrepresentation on both sides of the river among all disaffected toward the Government. All this is important, as soon as possible, to extinguish by the transfer. In addition to these motives, it is believed, as you will readily understand, that General Price's influence and reputation can be made most available for the service of the Government in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and that, besides gathering additional forces at once from Missouri, when the time arrives, as I trust it soon may, for an onward advance toward the north, he, more speedily and effectually than any one else, might arouse the Missouri people to a united and energetic movement to relieve themselves from the thraldom of their present tyrants.
In view of all these considerations, I trust you will exert yourself to concert with General Pemberton for the exchange contemplated, or, failing in that, for the transfer, at the earliest practicable period at all consistent with the safety of his command, of General Price and his Missouri troops to the Trans-Mississippi Department. If important to effect this, you might engage to send at an early period an equivalent force to General Pemberton. Should Vicksburg be successfully defended, as I have strong confidence it will be, then, at least, it is hoped the arrangement can be easily effected.
With high esteem, most truly, yours,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
RICHMOND, VA., February 5, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
DEAR SIR: Your draught's of a letter to General E. K. Smith (herewith returned) I communicated to General Price, and he expresses himself satisfied with it, on the supposition that, of course, instructions equally strong and explicit will be sent to General Pemberton, who will naturally be very anxious to retain troops so valuable as General Price's veterans, unless the wish of the Department is distinctly intimated directly to him. General Price has no wish to leave Vicksburg on the eve of an attack, but he thinks (as I do) that the best mode of weakening that attack would be to send him to make a diversion in Arkansas. It is possible General Pemberton may be able to spare General Price's command at once. Permit me, therefore, to suggest a change in the sentence before the last in your letter, so that it may read thus, "To effect this at once, you might engage to send afterward, at an early period, an equivalent force to General Pemberton." I am glad this imbroglio can be thus arranged, but candor compels me to add that it cannot fail to come up again unless the two lieutenant-generals, to whom it is referred, succeed in effecting