War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0957 Chapter XXXIV. CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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Canadian, to avoid the bad effect which the numerous desertions will have on the other troops.

General Bankhead's orders have been changed. I have now no option but to maintain a defensive position as long as possible, falling back when the enemy advances. It is time some defense were commenced near where the roads to Texas via Forts Smith and Gibson join, but it is some distance in my rear at present. I have no engineer to intrust with the work, nor have I many intrenching tools. I suppose some negroes could be had near Red River.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. STEELE,

Brigadier-General.

HDQRS. DEPT. INDIAN TERRITORY AND SUPERINTENDENCY, Camp Soda Springs, August 7, 1863.

Hon. S. S. SCOTT,

Commissioner of Indian Affairs:

DEAR SIR: Affairs have not been and are not progressing favorably here.* The desertions from the Arkansas troops have increased to an alarming extent, many of them going to the enemy. More than 300 left last night, with several officers. I have ordered that bridge back over the Canadian, to avoid the example to the Texas and Indian troops, under the plea of being in a position to re-enforce Fort Smith.

The enemy's forces at Fort Gibson have been increased, and mine are scarcely greater than those with which General Cooper was driven off the ---- --, scarcely being able to check his antagonist.

I have been awaiting very impatiently the arrival of General Bankhead's command to-day. I learn that his orders have been countermanded.

General Price says he can give me no re-enforcements. I see nothing ahead but being driven back to Red River, unless defenses can be made which will enable us to hold the foe in check until assistance can be sent from Texas. I have not intrenching tools, and if I had, but little work can be gotten out of such troops as I have under my command. The prospects are very gloomy.

Very respectfully,&c.,

WM. STEELE,

Brigadier-General.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE INDIAN TERRITORY, Soda Springs, August 8, 1863.

Colonel A. S. MORGAN,

Commanding Fort Smith, Ark.:

COLONEL: I wish you to communicate direct to Major Blair, at Little Rock, any intelligence you may receive of the movements of the enemy.

I can give you no specific instructions, except that you must make your preparations to evacuate Fort Smith, as the indications are that you will not be able to hold it. General Blunt's troops are camped near the works at Gibson. Two regiments are, however, at Tahlequah, 18 miles distant. These two regiments can move without observation, and may be intended to cross the river at Fort Coffee, near Scullyville,

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*Some matters of detail omitted.

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