mation extends, there is not a single point on that river, above the locality mentioned, where anything like a sufficiency of that indispensable article for a military station can be found. But on the Cheynne River timber is abundant, and a post might be located
a little north of a direct line west from Abercrombie, which would be within striking distance of the James River, and equally command the important valley of the Cheynnee, while it could be supplied with more facility and much less expense from Fort Abercrombie, or even from Fort Ridgely, than from the Missouri River. The Conteau of the Missouri is very much broken and is difficult to be traversed with loaded teams, and the farther north we proceed the more impracticable the country becomes. By occupying the points I have designated for military posts, all the essential conditions of protection to trains bound for the gold-bearing regions of Idaho would be fulfilled, while a complete check would be given to the advance of any large bodies of savages toward the settlements in Minnesota and Iowa by the valleys of the great streams, which are the usual avenues of approach from the upper prairies.
Second. I regard the establishment of a fort on the Missouri River, at or near the head of Burnt Boat Island, where the Indians were driven across that stream by my command in July last, as of great importance. The region surrounding it is the favorite hunting-ground of some of the powerful bands of the Yanktonnais Sioux, and there is a mutual descent to the river from each side, which makes it easy of access. It is by no means impossible that a further examination of the country will prove this to be the best crossing-place for overland expeditions. It has evidently been favorite passage-way of the Indians for generations. While I concur fully in the general features of the operations you propose, I beg leave respectfully to suggest that the new cavalry regiment will not be in condition to be effective for many months to come. The material is for the most part very inexperienced and raw, a small part only being composed of volunteers from the First Regiment. It will be impossible to mount them before spring, and while they will be of essential service in protecting the frontier as already mentioned, I trust that you will secure the three cavalry companies coming home from the South, for active employment as a part of the expeditionary force.
My experience of last season fully confirms me in the conviction that in very long-continued marches, where grain forage cannot be obtained, American horses cannot be relied on to keep pace with infantry, without becoming so poor and out of condition as to render them comparatively useless in the rapid pursuit of the enemy. I therefore respectfully repeat my already expressed opinion, that the column intended for active movements should be composed principally of infantry, and that the three companies of cavalry be confined to its march and their strength husbanded as much as may be, so that the horses can in action overtake the ponies of the Indians, which could not be done with our poor animals during the last campaign. In conclusion, I would respectfully state that as I have in this district but two regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, with one company of artillery, it will tax my resources to the utmost to carry into execution the contemplated plan of operations.
I do not include Hatch's battalion in my estimate, as I consider it indispensable that it should remain on our northern line under existing circumstances. Two companies at each of the three regular