HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., June 3, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
GENERAL: I inclose to you, for the consideration of the President, the correspondence in regard to the charge that General McNeil had murdered ten citizens of Missouri.*
You will see that I have not recognized the position assumed by General Curtis, that there are no Confederate citizens in Missouri. In consequence of the time that has elapsed since the alleged murder, the effect of retaliation now could not be so salutary as if made at an earlier day.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., June 3, 1863.
General E. KIRBY SMITH, Commanding, & c.:
GENERAL: You will recollect that in the conversation which I had the honor to have with you while here, you concurred with me fully in the importance I attached to having organized detachments, with some artillery, at favorable points on the Mississippi, above Vicksburg, to endanger and destroy the vessels and frail transports of the enemy passing up or down, frequently laden with troops. It really seems to me, if this service were properly organized and under efficient officers, transportation on the river would be most seriously impeded, if not actually arrested. At this time particularly such service would be an inestimable auxiliary to our defense of Vicksburg and command of the Mississippi River. I am induced, in this connection, to invite your attention to a special corps which was employed last winter, before high water, in this kind of service, even without artillery, with signal success.
A gentleman of character and intelligence, Mr. Asa Hodges, of Arkansas, who has a plantation very nearly opposite Memphis, some 12 miles back from the river, informs me that two companies, Captains McGehee's and Barton's, of Major Chrisman's battalion, composed largely of pilots and river-boatmen, were stationed near him, and to his knowledge did much injury on the river, and performed many acts of signal gallantry, taking several boats and many barges, and cutting one or more out from within half a mile of Memphis itself. He is satisfied that these men had an understanding with many pilots and others with friendly feelings, on the boats of the enemy, and says if they only could have been allowed to enjoy the fruits of their captures, they would certainly have done much more mischief and made still more daring captures, and he does not hesitate to avow his confidence that they could and would have well nigh stopped transportation on the river at that point. He urges this plan with such men earnestly, both as an additional stimulant to them and as affording them the means of bribing and inducing their fellows among the rivermen with the enemy to connive at or aid their operations.
* See Holmes to Curtis, December 7, 1862, Part I, p. 816; Curtis to Holmes, December 27, 1862, Part I, p. 879; also Smith to Curtis, June 3, 1863, p. 307.