War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0862 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records


Fort Smith, June 8, 1863.

Brigadier General W. R. BOGGS,

Chief of Staff, Shreveport, La.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Lieutenant-General Smith's indorsement upon my letter of complaint against Colonel Speight for disobedience of orders, from which indorsement I infer that my letter has been misunderstood. My complaint is, that Colonel Speight disobeys an order to send back West's battery, upon the ground that he conceives that the previous order from headquarters Trans-Mississippi Department bears a certain construction.

The remarks of the lieutenant-general are solely directed to the concluding portion of my letter, in which I say that "I have been treated with indignity in having troops withdrawn from my command without receiving any notice from the authority giving the order."

I have not misconceived my position either with regard to the channel through which I should receive information of the removal of troops nor have I founded any complaint upon their removal. The officer ordering it was perfectly competent to do so; but that I should remain more than a month without receiving a copy of the order, or any official notification, is, I think, good cause for thinking myself treated with indignity. Since writing my former letter, I learn, unofficially, that Lane's regiment has also been taken from my command in the same manner.

As the lieutenant-general has referred to the necessity that existed for taking Speight's command, I will state, incidentally, the results, as they appear at present upon the Indian country. Colonel Phillips (the Federal commander) has had time to fortify himself at Fort Gibson, a central position with regard to the Indian tribes, from which he can, with the greater resources of the Northern Government, put his well clothed and supplied allies in contrast with the poorly clothed and badly equipped Indians who have remained true to the South. This has been done during the time lost by the removal of the 1,000 effective men of Speight's brigade and West's battery, which force has only been partially replaced during the last few days by one regiment, of 401 men, and two iron 6-pounders, without men or horses. Phillips is now intrenched in a manner which will, I fear, enable him to hold his position against the small guns at my command. This is an outline of the results occasioned here by the removal of those forces; but, in stating it, I disclaim any intention of intimating that a greater necessity did not exist for their presence in Louisiana. The Indian country was placed under my command at a time when it had nearly been stripped of supplies and published to the world as irrevocably lost to the South; the troops given me were mostly disorganized or unarmed; yet, with all these disadvantages, there was a time when complete possession of the Indian country could have been obtained, when General Holmes (under date of May 2) advised me that, if Speight's command had arrived, it would be a good time to strike at Phillips, as all the troops that could re-enforce him had been drawn off to oppose Marmaduke. At this time these troops were withdrawn - the infantry by an authority against which I neither have the right to nor do I complain of, and my only battery by a colonel, in defiance of the military rule to obey the last order, and who justifies himself by saying that he conceives an order which reads "three regiments" to mean "four regiments and a battery." (See Special Orders, Numbers 10, Trans-Mississippi Department.) It is against this insubordinate assumption of power that I have a right to complain,