HDQRS. DISTRICT OF THE INDIAN TERRITORY,
Fort Smith, Ark., March 31, 1863.
Lieutenant General T. H. HOLMES,
Commanding District of Arkansas, Little Rock:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 28th instant was received too late last night to be answered by the mail of that date. My impression is that Blunt does contemplate a movement in this direction, and that he is accumulating stores at Newtonia for this purpose. Whether I have anything to fear from him depends upon the strength with which he moves. His forces are, as yet, scattered, for convenience of supplies. My information is not as accurate as I could wish. I hope to have more definite intelligence, of which I shall advise you.
The question of supplying troops from Texas is only one of time, whether I can get together the necessary number of wagons. Captain Cabell has notified me of contracts for 400 yoke of oxen, to be delivered between the 1st and 15th of April. I had ordered a movement of Speight's brigade, by regiments, as fast as they could be put in order, and had hoped to have had all moving north by the 15th proximo. This order I have countermanded by express this morning. The regiments of that brigade, you are aware, are in a very demoralized condition, with the exception of Speight's, and that, I think, has not improved from association. The move to the other side of the Mississippi River, placing them with large armies, will subject them to a discipline that cannot be enforced while they are so convenient to their homes. As far as that brigade is concerned, the move will be beneficial both to itself and to the service; but if it is taken, another must be sent in its place, unless you move in such a manner as to make an advance in this direction too hazardous until the grass rises sufficiently to enable me to threaten the enemy's communications, by crossing at Fort Gibson, and moving up the emigrant road from Missouri to Texas.
I do not like to have the enemy get control of any part of this river, for the instant that their passage backward and forward is secure, their bands of robbers and traitors will be operating in the northern part of Texas, where, in connection with the unsound element (which is not small) in that section, they would create an alarm which might seriously affect our supply of breadstuffs from that quarter. if your movements are such as to secure the line of the river, a brigade of infantry would not be, perhaps, necessary. An active cavalry force, with artillery, would probably be sufficient to clear the Indian country and cause them some apprehension in Kansas.
In moving Speight's brigade do you include West's battery! That, I think, should be left, as well as all arms not in the hands of men. The regiment now here should go by all means. They could be sent to Arkadelphia and Camden, and join the brigade farther down. General Cooper has been ordered to Little Rock, as directed. I have considered his services too valuable to part with so long as it was left discretionary with me. General Cooper has a knowledge of the Indians that is possessed by few. His services have been very important. My intercourse with him has left an impression more favorable than I entertained before. His troops are widely scattered for the protection of the frontier and of depots. I am drawing all that can be spared on to the Arkansas as fast as they can be fed. The Choctaws are all, I believe, loyal; also the Cherokees who are now refugees; in fact, the war was between the different parts of the Cherokee Nation, and will amount to the extermination of one side or the other. They could not live together. The Creeks