War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0925 Chapter XXXIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

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HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE INDIAN TERRITORY,

Fort Smith, Ark., July 13, 1863

Major W. B. BLAIR,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:

MAJOR: I find that it requires more time to start Cabell's brigade than I expected much time being taken up in shoeing horses, &c. I inspected the command yesterday, and find many horses disabled by the recent march. The dismounted men are being organized separately. General Cooper reports the river rising at the Creek Agency, which makes me less apprehensive of any collision near Gibson before all my troops are there. The heavy guns which were en route from San Antonio have been repossessed by General Magruder, which leaves me with artillery, less in number and caliber than is in Fort Gibson.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. STEELE,

Brigadier-General.

FORT SMITH, ARK., July 13, 1863

General ALBERT PIKE,

Little Rock, Ark:

SIR: In your letter to General Holmes, published in the Patriot of the 11th instant, you state:

The line of the Arkansas is not now deemed important to be held. Colonel Cooper is, I believe at Perryville some 30 miles south of the Canadian, and General Steele's headquarters are near Doaksville nearer Red River than I was,and something like 150 miles lower down that river; his troops, I think, are in that vicinity or nearer Red River, &c.

This statement of yours was evidently made without sufficient knowledge of the facts. There is foundation for it whatever, except the fact of a portion of my troops having been at one time at or near Doaksville, where they were sent last winter for the grater convenience of obtaining forage and subsistence, and for recruiting purposes. My own headquarters has been and still is at Fort Smith. At the date of your letter General Cooper was upon the Arkansas, where he still is. I make this statement simply for the purpose of correcting the assertion conveyed in your letter, which is calculated to injure both myself and the country which I have the honor to command. I do not desire to enter into any newspaper controversy, considering discussions of that character at all times unprofitable, but more particularly so in the present condition of our country.

Very respectfully, &c.

WM. STEELE,

Brigadier-General.

RICHMOND, VA., July 14, 1863

General E. KIRBY SMITH:

SIR: I some time since sent you a dispatch invoking your aid to relieve the siege of Vicksburg.* Probably before you received it the disaster which was apprehended had occurred. By the fall of our two fortified places on the Mississippi River (Vicksburg and Port Hudson), your department is placed in a new relation, and your difficulties must be materially enhanced. You now have not merely a military, but also

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*See Davis to Smith, July 2, p. 902, and Smith's reply, July 10, p. 913.

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