officers as worthless as the men, and without material in the ranks for supplying their places. Colonel Speight reports them worthless, unreliable, and to some extent disloyal. With the exception of Speight's regiment, they could have been of no service in the defense of the Indian country, and it is probably well they are removed. I have disbanded the officers, placing them in the ranks, where within the conscript ages, and ordered the men to be distributed through the regiments of General Walker's command.
General Banks' advance has as yet only reached Monette's Ferry, 40 miles below Natchitoches. Walker delayed most unjustifiably at Monroe, and has probably defeated the possibility of a junction with Taylor at Natchitoches. He has been ordered to move directly to this point, on which Taylor retreats in the event of being forced to evacuate Natchitoches. The length of the march, and the danger to his communication, may check the enemy's farther advance, and give us time to prepare for him. Should we be compelled to evacuate this place, it will be with an immense loss of material, and with no base to fall back on. You were instructed, under date of April 24, that the evacuation of Alexandria was inevitable, and that the defense of the valley of the Washita [Ouachita] require, give the necessary instructions for transporting by boats to Monroe the brigade ordered from your command to Camden. The officer in command should report to General of Red River would be one of the most desirable events of the campaign. The decisive battle of the West must soon be fought near Vicksburg. The fate of the Trans-Mississippi Department in a great measure depends on it, and Banks, by operating here, is thrown out of the campaign on the Mississippi.
I do not like to give up the valley of the Arkansas and the hope of entering Missouri when the events of the war justify, nor will it be ordered except in extreme necessity. You will, however, so make your dispositions that, should the necessity arise, you can move to my assistance with as little delay as practicable.
E. KIRBY SMITH,
Lieutenant- General, Commanding.
Pocahontas, Ark., May 16, 1863.
Major THOMAS L. SNEAD:
DEAR SIR: The bearer, Captain Parker, is on business for my command. Any assistance you can render him will be much appreciated by me. It is impossible for us to make a forward move without arms and ammunition. There may be some objections raised because my command is not organized. There are several parts of companies which will soon be complete. It would please me better if you could furnish the necessary articles without the assistance of General Holmes, as I am anxious not to have anything to do with him.
I feel confident that we can raise a brigade of cavalry and artillery in three months, if no one interferes with me. There are plenty of men in Missouri sworn into the service, who are not organized, to form a brigade. I am making efforts to have them consolidated.