borough, N. C., by which they will open a continuous interior line from Richmond to the southwest. This will enable them to transport troops and supplies from Virginia to Georgia, by a short and safe route.
It was hoped that when the season advanced so as to prevent further operations by the Army of the Potomac, a portion of it could be detached for service elsewhere. But so large a number have received furloughs for re-enlisting in the veteran regiments that it is hardly possible at present to make such detachments. Moreover, it is quite probable that a portion of the Potomac River will be frozen over, and a bridge of ice thus formed from Virginia to Maryland. If so, a large land force will be required to take the place of the Potomac flotilla in preventing raids and contraband trade.
As an interchange of views on the present condition of affairs and the coming campaign will be advantageous, I hope you will write me freely and fully your opinions on these matters.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., January 7, 1864.
Major General F. STEELE,
Little Rock, Ark.:
GENERAL: Orders were issued yesterday, by direction of the President, placing you in command of the new Department of Arkansas, and constituting your command the Seventh Army Corps. That clause which places you under the orders of General Grant is not intended to affect in any way your powers and authority as a commander of a military department. You will therefore make your returns and reports to the Adjutant-General of the Army, and communicate as usual with these headquarters. You will also communicate with General Grant in regard to all military movements, in order that there may be a complete understanding and co-operating of all the forces in the Mississippi Valley. It is quite possible, that a combined movement of your corps and troops under Major-General Sherman may be determined on, and, if so, it is deemed proper that General Grant should direct it.
In regard to civil matters in your department, the President has prepared some instructions which will be sent to you through General Kimball.
I have just seen your letter of December 12, to General Schofield, in regard to an advance toward Red River.* It was at one time hoped that you might co-operate with General Banks in holding that line, and thus secure Arkansas and Missouri from further rebel raids, but when General Banks changed his plan of operations to the Gulf coast an advance on your part would have been extremely perilous, and you acted wisely in occupying the defensive position of the Arkansas. It is hoped that measures may hereafter be concerted between yourself and General Sherman, and General Banks to drive the enemy entirely out of Arkansas, and then occupy the line of Red River, which is shorter and probably easier of defense. In the mean time I presume all your present forces will be required to hold your present line of defense and to prevent rebel raids north of the Arkansas.
*See Vol. XXII, Part II, p. 741.