It is just now, I think, your force can be of service, if you can raise 2,000 men. You can move north, passing west of Fort Gibson, and fall upon Fort Scott, which is now very weak, and several small forts in Southwest Missouri, or, if Fort Scott is re-enforced, the whole of the Neosho river in Kansas is in a well-settled country, from which you could draw sufficient supplies, and do them much damage, and occupy their troops in defending their own country. This can be done while the troops vicinity of Fort Gibson, where in a few days, I shall have all the troops under my command concentrated. It will not do to wait in Texas until the State is invaded. The instant that the Indian country is overrun most of the tribes now friendly will be against us. They are, most of them, of but little value as soldiers, but they are better as friends than enemies. The advantage of keeping the foe at a distance from your district is too apparent to require discussion. In respect to supplies also, your district is of the utmost importance to my command. As the Indian country furnishes nothing expect a little beef and salt, all other articles are principally drawn from Texas and from Eastern Arkansas. The latter source will, no doubt, be soon lost to us, the loss of Vicksburg leaving but little hope of saving the country along the Mississippi and its navigable tributaries, which will make the Indian country entirely dependent upon your district for everything essential for an army.
Such is, briefly, the state of affairs and the opportunities offering. I should be pleased to meet you, and have a conversation on these subjects, if I could spare the time to do so.
I have the honor to be,your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS NORTHERN SUB-DISTRICT OF TEXAS,
Bonham, Tex., July 11, 1863
Captain EDMUND P. TURNER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Houston, Tex.:
CAPTAIN: I herewith inclose an extract from a dispatch received to-day from General Steele.* Private letters to Major S. J. Lee estimate the enemy's force at Fort Gibson at 4,500 men. I am apprehensive that General Steele will be compelled to fall back, and in that event I shall be forced to his assistance to prevent an inroad into this State. Looking to this contingency, my command is at present so inadequate to accomplish anything, that I must call the attention of the commanding general to the necessity of holding troops in readiness to send to this point at a moment's warning. Colonel Gurley's regiment, aggregating about 425 men, are the only troops now here. Colonel Hardeman's seven companies are ordered to rendezvous here on the 15th instant, but I am at a loss to conjecture how many are to be depended on; certainly not over 350 effective total. This gives me an effective force of not exceeding 825 men of all arms. I do not include Colonel Terrell, as I have heard nothing from him directly; but, if his regiment was here, their arms have not arrived, and may not be expected for some time, certainly not in time for them to take the field by the 1st or even 15th proximo. Of the six companies of State Line Troops, I know nothing, not even their whereabouts. In view of the increasing importance of