has supplies only to the 1st proximo, and I am straining every energy to forward his sixty thousand rations before I leave. Doubtless General Steele, being master of his own situation and seeing things from a different standpoint, is a better judge of the propriety of his military movements than I can possibly be; but I am so assured of the impropriety of leaving the forks of the roads to Fort Gibson and Fort Smith unguarded, that I am strongly tempted to take upon myself the responsibility of halting at that point. It this country should be raided our loss would be immense. The destruction of the few thrashing machines in operation would of itself prove a calamity, and this could be effected so easily that even now I am in constant apprehension of hearing that some small band has slipped down and done the work.
In view of all that is at stake, the immense interest involved I urge the major-general commanding not to leave this entire frontier exposed, by allowing this command to be permanently assigned to General Steele at Fort Smith. The enemy cannot be kept out of this country by the occupancy of that position. He must be checked effectually in front, and when I leave his front (as I do when I leave the Fort Gibson road) my conviction is that this country will be harried by him. I have no objection either to serve under General Steele or to go to Fort Smith but I am convinced that the safety of this section depends on keeping troops on the Fort Gibson road. If I was untrammeled by orders, I should advance with my entire force direct in that direction.
I am, captain, very respectfully,
SMITH P. BANKHEAD,
Acting Brigadier-General, Commanding.
ENGINEER BUREAU, August 20, 1863.
Lieutenant General E. KIRBY SMITH, Commanding Trans-Miss. Dept.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to send you the following list of men, who,by the wish of the honorable Secretary of War, above to be employed in your department on the special service of destroying the enemy's property by torpedoes and similar inventions, viz: John Kirk, Charles Littlepage, John Silure, Robert Creuzbaur, E. Allen, W. D. Miller, and C. Williams.
These men should each be enlisted in and form part of an engineer company, but will, nevertheless, be employed, so far as possible, in the service specified above, and, when the public interests in your judgment require it, details of additional men may be made, either from the engineer troops or from the line, to aid them in their particular duties. Their compensation will be 50 per cent. of the property destroyed by their new inventions, and all the arms and munitions captured by them by the use of torpedoes or of similar devices. Beyond this,they will be entitled to such other reward as Congress may hereafter provide.
Your obedient servant,
A. L. RIVES,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Acting Chief of Bureau.
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
A similar letter to the above was written and sent to General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding Department of the West, with the following