information, I have this day dispatched the steamer Cheek, with a cavalry force under the command of Captain O'Connell, and a guard for the boat of colored troops under the command of Captain Robinson, to ascend White River to Indian Bay, the cavalry to make its way to their place by land. I request your co-operation. I hope you will furnish me a pilot to Indian Bay, and allow the Cheek, if she is fast enough, to precede your convoy, so as to arrive at the landing at Indian Bay before day. He can be transferred to one of your boats or be brought back to you. I have no doubt you will communicate to my officers all the information that may be useful to them and aid my expedition as much as you can.
I have the honor to be, your friend and obedient servant,
N. B. BUFORD,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS,
Helena, Ark., February 4, 1864.
Captain C. O'CONNELL,
Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry:
SIR: You will take 100 men on the steamer Cheek and proceed to Indian Bay, on White River, where you will land and march in pursuit of Captain Mayo's or Davis' cavalry, which are reported to be encamped on or near Colonel J. Boyce's plantation. I send with you 2 guides, Sergeant Crisp and a former slave of Colonel Boyce's, who know the country. If you get proof that Boyce has been giving aid and comfort to the enemy you will arrest him. You will search his premises for arms, ammunition, and letters, also for cotton; but you will be careful not to allow a particle of his or any one's property to be taken except for military purposes. You will order the Cheek to wait for you a certain time, to be fixed exactly by yourself. You will use your discretion as to returning to me or sending back to me. Delay might cause the assembly of a larger force than yours. Use your own judgment. If consistent, send Boyce and his horses back to the Cheek.
Push on to Simms', on the west side of Big Creek, arrest him and [take] all his available horses and mules, then, making your way up the creek, return to this place. You will give out that you intend returning to the White River. If you learn that any injury has happened to Hobbs you will seize as hostages two of the most influential rebels you can find who have given aid and comfort to the enemy. Be cautious and get information, but while out at Big Creek try to find the Scarfs and others who belong to the rebels. Destroy all the arms and ammunition you cannot conveniently take with you, and take your time if you feel safe in remaining out. If you come by Dade' demand of him his shotgun and two pistols. He is on parole, but not authorized to keep arms.
I may send out a force to co-operate with you, but do not depend on it. It may be advisable to cross Big Creek high up. Use your judgment. If any of your men are wounded impress all the aid you can find. Look out for the safety and health of your command. You will deliver dispatches to the gun-boat at Friar's Point, to the commanders of 63 and 66, and to the gun-boat at the mouth of White