ADJT. AND INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Richmond, February 9, 1863.
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XXVII. The command of Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith is extended so as to embrace the Trans-Mississippi Department.
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By command of the Secretary of War:
Fort Smith, Ark., February 10, 1863.
Colonel J. C. MONROE:
COLONEL: It is reported that 500 of the enemy were in camp yesterday 8 miles from Van Buren, on Frog Bayou. Numerous reports have reached here of their being on this side of the river. You must, however, ere this have learned if such be the case. What they may have done at Threlkeld's Ferry you are no doubt aware. It is found that a boat may come up without a sufficient protection against so large a number of the enemy. Please endeavor to ascertain everything you can in this connection, and inform me without delay.
Colonel (or Major) Brooks is reported to be on his way up the river, on the opposite side, with a squadron. If by any means a junction of yours and Brooks' commands [could be effected], the joint commands would be perhaps sufficiently strong to attack the Federal force. The Federals are reported to have with them a number of wagons, and are loading cotton.
It is desirable that you send an express to Colonel Carroll, informing him of all such facts as you deem necessary, and especially all such information as may tend to the security of steamers on the river. If the boat at Threlkeld's has been destroyed, as reported, inform Colonel Carroll of the fact, and consequently the impossibility of your crossing to the opposite side of the river at that point.
Please communicate freely and frequently.
I am directed by the commanding general to express his confidence in your energy and vigilance, and he confides in the continued exercise of these high soldierly qualities on your part in the important duty of guarding the avenue of approach to our lines, and affording security to the navigation of the river, so important, and indeed indispensable, to the supply of the command at this post.
In case it does not interfere with operations decided on, it is the wish of the general that you send a scout in the direction of Grand Prairie and Chariton, in order to ascertain the meaning of the reports of an enemy in that quarter. In your operations you will be untrammeled with orders in detail. Much must necessarily be left to your discretion and judgment. It is hoped, however, that you will not find it necessary to get too far away with your command, as under present circumstances it is deemed necessary to hold your command at a convenient proximity to this point.
By command of Brigadier-General Steele:
J. F. CROSBY,