The first, which if from General Steele, takes all or nearly all the troops about Fort Smith, which have been under Blunt and McNiel, holding a check against raids on Kansas and the Indian country, but at present for convenience of forage and outposts stationed outside of Fort Smith. There are no soldiers in the "200 feet square" stone-wall inclosure at Fort Smith, as it is no fort and no place for troops.
If, as stated, you have so decided that the town of Fort Smith is in the Department of Arkansas and turned all the troops over, surely this department should be relieved of the responsibility of the little inclosure, which, when I was there, only contained the officer's quarters and some 6-pounders. The second order removing the Ninth Kansas, takes away the companies distributed along the Missouri border, including Captain Coleman, who is the best posted and best fighter of bushwhackers in that vicinity. I do not see how I can supply their places. I am thus stripped of all possible means of resisting raids and preventing new robber organizations such as threaten and frighten the people of Kansas.
There remains under my command only the Indian Home Guards below Fort Scott. The little force distributed in the interior seems no more than absolutely necessary to guard stores and towns that tremble with apprehension of immediate danger. I am sure you do not desire this. Your kind dispatch of the 15th instant in reply to mine form Fort Smith assures me that you desire to sustain my efforts, and I therefore present matters which seem to me of vital importance to my command. Not only Fort Smith, but all my department south of the 38th degree of latitude, is by these orders supported only by these dismounted, decimated, half-starved, and undisciplined Indians that tremble with terrified women and children within a few miles of Fort Gibson.
You will see, therefore, the necessity of giving me the command of the troops that took the country at Fort Smith and now hold the enemy in check below, or immediately send other troops to supply the place of these, which by construction and accident seem to be diverted beyond my command. The refugee Indians now in Kansas and those that have gathered around Fort Gibson should be defended in their own territories, and the rebels that now occupy the country and are in force on Red River should receive a blow that will drive them through Texas.
The prairie country west of Arkansas is favorable to military movement, and with a small army corps I could throw forward your extreme right so as to secure the Indian country and flank the rebels in Texas. The facilities and economy of a movement on the prairies west of the Ozark and Boston Mountains, where cattle and grass supply food for men and horses, were illustrated by me personally in my recent reconnaissance, when in midwinter I traveled from 35 to 65 miles a day, through country mostly uninhabited, and after 600 miles marching my troops and horses were in good health and condition.
If, therefore, I am given a proper force, I feel confident I can use it to much greater advantage west of Missouri and Arkansas than I did a similar force in the mountains and timbered country of those States in 1861-'62. The interior route to the Rio Grande is on the prairies west of Missouri and Arkansas, where your right flank rests on uninhabited prairies, and no mountains or timber encumber your way, and the rebels congregated in Texas are harassed and turned