War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 1110 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV

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Camden, Ark., December 23, 1863.

Brigadier General ALFRED MOUTON,

Commanding Division:

GENERAL: I have instructed to you a most important duty, in the success of which I feel the greatest solicitude. Twenty-five thousand stand of arms have been sent to this department. General Johnston assures me they shall be crossed even should he employ his whole army for the purpose. Your whole division should be used for the successful accomplishment of this work.

Colonel [I. F.] Harrison, who was intrusted with the duty, but whose command was inadequate, is an officer of energy, prudence, and ability. His knowledge of the country will be invaluable to you, and you may find it expedient to carry out his plans. General Dockery, with 900 unarmed mounted infantry will report to you at Monroe, on or before the 1st of January. With Harrison's cavalry, this will give you a force that should pack out eight thousand or ten thousand guns at one time. I rely, general, on your energy and determination for the prompt and successful execution of this duty.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,




Camden, Ark., December 23, 1863.


GENERAL: I find, on making inquiries, and after acquiring the necessary information, that the situation of affairs here and within the enemy's lines is very different from what I had been led to expect, and that it would be madness, with the troops and means at my disposal, to attempt to drive the enemy from their works at Little Rock. There was a complete dearth of reliable information at headquarters previous to my arrival at Camden. I now find that the enemy, with their usual prudence, and with the same policy with always made them strengthen and secure the possession of the key points once obtained, have been long working with a heavy force, fortifying. At Pine Bluff the works are completed. A continuous, with flanks arrangements three-fourths of a mile in extent, encloses the court-house and principal part of the town. The extremities rest on the river; the ditch is deep, about 100 feet wide, and an interior breastwork of cotton-bales strengthens the parapet. A pontoon bridge opens communication with the north side of the river. Twelve pieces are in position, and the place is garrisoned by 1,500 men-four regiments. A force of 1,000 negroes have for over a month been hard at work fortifying the position at Little Rock. It is a place of natural strength, and, with the labor bestowed upon its defenses, is too strong for the means at my disposal. I have not succeeded in obtaining a plan of their works. They have two main large forts completed, covering the advances from Camden and Pine Bluff. How far their line is completed I have not learned, but from the number of laborers and the time employed, it must cover all approaches to the city. Steele garrisons Little Rock with 6,000 men; has an advance post of 1,200 or 1,500 men at Benton, with the inclosed works covering the approaches to the town. At Devall's Bluff, Jacksonport, and along the railroad he has 3,000 men disposed. By drawing in his outposts, he can in four days concentrate a force of 12,000 effective men. General