I do not feel willing, without the sanction of your judgment, to direct a mode of proceeding usually adverse to discipline and somewhat calculated to demoralize troops; but my informant, without other than patriotic interest in the matter, and evidently a man of observation and intelligence, urges the course so decidedly that I am induced to think the plan in this case might work well, and to authorize its adoption if not disapproved by your judgment. They might be simply authorized to act as partisans, or not be held to account by the quartermasters or the Government for their captures.
At all events, from the peculiar constitution of these companies, and, perhaps, the whole battalion, I am inclined strongly to believe that they could not be better employed than on this river service, and I recommend that if they have been withdrawn, as is probable during high water, they should be returned, with some light pieces of artillery and artillerists, to that field of operations, and be devoted to that service.
I have requested Mr. Hodges, who bears this letter, if practicable, to see you, and if not, General Holmes, and add by his personal explanations to the force of the suggestions I have made, so that the plan may be secured a fair hearing and due consideration on the part of those on whose judgment full reliance is placed.
With high esteem, very truly, yours,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS,
Little Rock, Ark., June 3, 1863.
Major General STERLING PRICE,
Commanding, & c., near Jacksonport, Ark.:
GENERAL: I am instructed by Lieutenant-General Holmes, commanding District of Arkansas, to say that he designs Shelby's brigade to be held in readiness for immediate movement. It is the purpose of Lieutenant-General Holmes to employ it west of Arkansas for a special purpose.
I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
W. B. BLAIR,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
GENERAL ORDERS, HDQRS. TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., June 3, 1863.
I. All soldiers escaped from Arkansas Post who have not reported for duty, will do so at once, at the following points, viz: Troops from Arkansas, at Little Rock, and from Texas, at Shreveport. Those who do not comply with this order immediately, and whom it may become necessary to arrest for failure to do so, will be treated as deserters.
II. Brigadier General E. Greer, Provisional Army of the Confederate States, is assigned to duty as commandant of conscripts for the Trans-Mississippi Department, and will establish his headquarters at Shreveport, La. Commandants of conscripts for the several districts within the department will make their reports and returns to General Greer, and be under and subject to his orders.
By command of Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith:
S. S. ANDERSON,