of squadrons and stations will see that the cavalry horses and equipments are well cared for and kept up to the maximum of efficiency. In the arduous and continued to which men and horses will necessarily be subject on this border, increased vigilance is necessary for both officers and men to maintain their horses in good condition, upon which their usefulness depends. The patrolling form the different posts will be done under a regular and systematic plan, so that the more inaccessible portions of the country may be successively examined and constantly patrolled, taking care, however, in not always traveling by exactly the same points, and thus int eh brush decreasing the chances of ambush from guerrilla parties.
The commanders of stations will take particular care that they and their subordinates acquire a perfect knowledge of the country, its resources in forage, its covers, forests, hiding places for marauding parties, fords, and in particular the roads from each station.
While in command at Westport the colonel commanding wishes that you would direct your patrolling more especially toward Hickman Mills and the Kansas boundary and on the Blue, toward Independence. Captain Hall having been instructed more particularly to scout toward Independence and south, southeast, and southwest from Hickman Mills, you will at your earliest opportunity arrange with Captain Hall, Major Pritchard, and Major Smith signals and countersigns for the mutual recognition of scouting parties of the several stations of this sub-district, these, if possible, to be changed every three or more days. Relying upon your zeal and the discipline and energy of yourself and command to attend to these responsible duties, the colonel commanding trusts that the commanding general's instructions will be fully obeyed and carried out.
By order of Colonel James H. Ford, commanding Fourth Sub-District:
EDWARD L. BERTHOUD,
First Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS INDEPENDENCE STATION, MO., February 28, 1864.
Colonel J. H. FORD,
Commanding Fourth Sub-Dist., Central Mo., Kansas City:
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that last night, about 9.30 o'clock, a woman (Irish) came in and stated that a party of bushwhackers had visited her house, about 1 1/2 or 2 miles east from town, and carried away her husband, robbed the house, &c. I at once made such disposition of the men of this command as I thought judicious, viz, I sent parties on foot to quietly patrol in the outskirts of the town, also some mounted men to find the trail of the party, the rest of the men lying on their arms. All remained quiet during the night, and at daybreak this morning I visited the house, and found the woman's statement to be correct, but the man had escaped and returned to his home.
I found that the party had taken a negro from his house, about half a mile east, and carried him some 8 miles in an easterly direction, where they shot him in four places and left him for dead, but he afterward revived and returned homes, but is not expected to recover. The number of the party is reported as from 7 to 20, but their trail shows no more than 5 or 6. Their object appeared to be to ascertain the number of troops at this post, whether any scouting parties were out, &c.