for the re-enlistment of the men whose term of service will expire on the 29th April next. In view of this fact I beg leave to withdraw the application of the Sixth Regiment, inasmuch as that amount of force cannot be spared from this district unless immediately replaced. The Second Minnesota Cavalry being order South, there will remain but two regiments of infantry, Hatch's battalion of cavalry, and an incomplete battery for operations on this extensive frontier.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. SIBLEY,
HDQRS. DIST. OF MINN., DEPT. OF THE NORTHWEST,
Saint Paul, Minn., February 16, 1864.
Major General JOHN POPE,
GENERAL: In reply to your dispatch of 11th instant, I have the honor to state that my estimate of the force required for operations in this district corresponded with the views of the programme which should be followed, as designated in your instructions of 18th ultimo, in which you direct me to mass my whole cavalry force, and with two or three pieces of artillery to take the field early in the spring and sweep the whole region between Fort Pierre and Abercrombie. You also direct the establishment of a post on James River of three companies of infantry and five companies of cavalry, and another at Devil's Lake of three companies of infantry and five companies of cavalry. In addition to these requirements you stated the necessity of keeping up a line of stations along the frontier settlements of Minnesota. According to your instructions I addressed you a dispatch covering the entire ground, and respectfully concurring in your general policy, except in the location of the posts, and suggesting the employment of infantry rather than cavalry for the expeditionary force, or rather a mixed force of each.
The regiments in this district were already reduced one-half in number before the Second Cavalry received marching orders, and I therefore deem it my duty to apprise you that after the departure of that regiment there would not be troops enough left in this district either to carry out your directions or to push the advantages gained over the savages during the last year, so as speedily to terminate hostilities on their part. I did not intend to underestimate these advantages, for they were very good, as the condition of the hostile Indians testifies; but they can only be made entirely decisive by a demonstration formidable enough to satisfy them that the Government forces had not abandoned the field, but were prepared for further offensive operations against the refractory bands. Such an attitude of preparations to strike whenever and wherever requisite would, in my judgment, bring all these bands to tender their submission, and would be far less expensive then to place our dependence in defensive measures and show but a feeble front.
I have already assured you that I did not desire to retain one man from the Southern fields, where they are much needed, who was not indispensable to the defense of the exposed borders of Minnesota and Iowa; but certainly these States, which have so patriotically re-