Holmes has 5,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, which could be made available for operations in the field. The infantry cannot be relied upon for storming fortifications; the cavalry are composed of good material, but badly armed and undisciplined. Mouton's division would swell this force to 12,000. Great as is the magnitude of the stake, and deeply as I feel the necessity, not only for my personal reputation, but for the interests of this district and the department, of striking a blow for the Arkansas Valley, had I been in possession of these facts, and been furnished with the information I have now obtained, I should never have though of undertaking at this season an expedition so Quixotic and impracticable. Pine Bluff could be carried by assault, but would be fruitless in results and costly in the sacrifice. Steele has thrown a large amount of supplies into Little Rock, and is independent of communication. General Holmes will place his command in winter quarters, holding the line of the Washita, and will endeavor to discipline and improve their morale for operations in the spring. The Texas brigade goes directly to Texas. Price holds his Missouri division ready to move as circumstances may require. Colonel Harrison reports his force inadequate for protecting and securing the arms which are to cross the Mississippi. Mouton is in position to accomplish the work. I have ordered him, with his whole division, to cover and protect their transportation to Monroe. I have impressed upon him the importance of the duty. To secure the safe passage of twenty-five thousand stand of arms would now be more valuable to us than a victory. He should remain with his whole division till they have all been crossed. I have ordered 900 unarmed mounted men-paroled Vicksburg prisoners-to report to him at Monroe on the 1st of January. They can pack out the arms on their horses; the bottom will be impassable for wagons. Major [H. T.] Douglas reports favorably on constructing a work at Trinity. Its importance is too great for me to again press the matter upon you. With a small covering force, the work, which will be small in extent, can be erected in a few days.
I am, general, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
[E. KIRBY SMITH,]
The lieutenant-general further instructs me to add that he attaches the greatest importance to the safe crossing of these arms, and if your other duties did not require your presence elsewhere, he would be gratified if you would give your own personal attention to the matter. The force necessary to cover the works at Trinity, Major Douglas thinks, would not exceed an infantry regiment, unless the movements of the enemy made it wholly impracticable.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. S. WEST,
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS MARMADUKE'S DIVISION,
December 26, 1863-8 p.m.
Honorable HENRY EWING,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Marmaduke's Division:
MAJOR: I am now 10 miles on my way to Camden. The heavy rains trouble me very much, threatening the intended movements of my troops. Send an order to Colonel Kitchen to-night to march his brigade and the artillery to the Davis Settlement to-morrow, and repair the