RICHMOND, July 15, 1863
His Excellency H. FLANAGIN,
Governor of Arkansas:
SIR; I have the honor to acknowledge yours of June 26, with the inclosed copy of your letter to General Smith, of June 15.*
Before entering on the various questions presented, allow me to correct a misconception of the intent of a sentence in mine of April 3, to which you reply.
I stated a fact in relation to men of the old regiments serving on the east side of the Mississippi having entered new organizations on the west side. I did not say, nor deem it necessary to say, that I had been informed that they were authorized to do so by their superior officers in Arkansas; but knowing the fact, could not mean to charge them as guilty of the abandonment of their own regiments, which is the construction you give to the statement of the fact as one of the reasons which had reduced the number of troops on the east side of the river, and probably inferring that the same man had been counted twice by you, but certainly not intending, as you suppose, to do injustice to the soldiery referred to.
It is no doubt, true that men in the army are seriously affected by the knowledge that their homes are in the hands of the enemy, and that men remaining at home, under such circumstances, are thereby deterred from entering the service, and for these and for many other and more cogent reasons it has always been our policy not to yield an acre of Confederate soil. But the power has not always been equal to the will, and we have been reduced by hard necessity to yield those portions of territory to which you refer, but it is hoped only for a season. I cannot suppose that your apprehensions that General Smith proposes to surrender the valley of the Arkansas can be well founded. His long service on the Western frontier must render him fully aware of the importance of holding that rich agricultural country, viewed in its relation to the defense of the State, to the retention of our influence in the Indian country, to a future advance into Missouri, and to the honor and general welfare of the Confederacy. Since the date of your letter, I have learned of General Smith's orders for an attack upon Helena, and hope that will have satisfied you that his purpose was rather to enlarge our occupation in Arkansas than to diminish it.
Our recent disasters will, I hope, only serve to nerve the true men of the Confederacy to greater exertion. The movement of troops from Arkansas to Louisiana, it might well have been hoped, would prevent the fall of Vicksburg. It is needless to say to you how greatly that would have promoted our future prospects in the Trans-Mississippi Department. The loss of the two fortified places we held on the river gives the enemy such power as will greatly interfere with future communication and co-operation between the States East and West. In proportion as you are separated from the States of the East, those of the West are thrown more and more on their own resources, and in proportion as may ability to aid yo diminishes, so does my anxiety for your safety increase, and my determination to make every effort for your defense keeps pace with that anxiety.
Though the route will be circuitous, I hope we shall be able to send you an adequate supply of arms and munitions, and if every man able to bear arms, whether subject to conscription or not,will rally to the standard of his country, I have an abiding faith that our success will
*Not found; but see Smith to Flanagin, July 11, p. 919.