War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0834 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV.

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eral Smith's headquarters. A portion of this brigade was already in advance of Boggy Depot, but have countermarched. This move, without notice, may produce the most disastrous consequences. I had been urging these troops up as rapidly as possible, fearing that Phillips, who is at or near Tahlequah, might push down and interrupt my communication with Northern Texas, and destroy my depot of subsistence at Boggy Depot. The withdrawal of these troops will have a bad effect upon our Indian troops, who are so badly armed and have so little ammunition that they do not count for much. I have sent an order for West's battery to come on. It is the only one I have, and probably was not contemplated in General Smith's order. I had calculated that I would have been able to occupy the whole Indian country by the 1st of July. The importance of keeping the enemy at a distance from the wheat region of Texas at the present time does not appear to be sufficiently appreciated. Lane's regiment is, I believe, still in Texas, and I have heard that Colonel Lane is trying to get ordered in another direction. This regiment is out of the Indian Territory without authority, having been ordered only to Red River to refit and get back the absentees.

Your obedient servant,

WM. STEELE,

Brigadier- General.

RICHMOND, VA., May 8, 1863.

Lieutenant General E. KIRBY SMITH,

Commanding Trans- Mississippi Department:

GENERAL: The departure of the Honorable R. W. Johnson affords a safe opportunity for writing to you, of which I avail myself. The communication with the Trans- Mississippi Department has been so irregular that I am but little informed of your present condition.

So far as we have learned her, the enemy seem to confine their operations to the country below Lake Providence, and would appear to be endeavoring to carry out the avowed purpose of preventing the cultivation of the crops in all that fertile region known as the bayou country of Louisiana. Against such small detachments as are reported to be sent on these plundering expeditions our hunters, if properly led, would. I think, be effective. In the mean time, and seemingly connected with the effort to get possession of the Mississippi River, Banks' army is reported to be on the Atchafalaya, and moving toward Red River. The fall of the Mississippi must soon close the navigation of Red River and all the bayous to their larger gunboats, but in the mean time great devastation must result from the presence of the enemy in Southern and Western Louisiana. You have, of course, contemplated your power to restrain marauding parties and your ability to march against Banks, and it needs no assurance to convince me that if you have not done both, it was because you had not the means.

You are doubtless aware of General Pemberton's position, and of the presence of the enemy's fleet between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and therefore cannot look, until there is a change of circumstances, for anything from the east side of the river. The guns and ammunition which have been sent out for you cannot now be transported, and it therefore becomes of increased importance to push forward the work on the foundry near Shreveport, as well for the casting of guns as shot and shell. Powder, I hope, you will be able to bring in requisite quantities from the Rio Grande.