Your telegram is received. Colonel Marcy goes to Pleasant Hill instead of Hickman Mills. He takes the responsibility of ordering Lieutenant Gooding to accompany him with 7 men from this post in addition. Colonel M, advises me not to weaken this garrison by pursuing the guerrillas any great distance. Hoping that my action in this matter may meet with your approval,
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, Commanding Station.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS, Fort Leavenworth, February 28, 1864.
His Excellency A. LINCOLN,
President of the United States:
When in 1861 I had penetrated Western Arkansas so as to command the Indian country on my right flank, you telegraphed me to give such protection to the loyal portion as I could.
Knowing the attitude taken soon after my movements by John Ross and the Penn Society, I carefully avoided entering the Indian country because I knew my troops were exasperated after some barbarities committed by the Indians at Pea Ridge, and because I could not remain and protect them for want of supplies, which I soon exhausted in the country. But I have always borne your injunctions in memory, and in subsequent movements of troops through this Indian country and beyond, favored by every means in my power the wisdom and humanity of your prescribed policy.
In a recent reconnaissance which I have made to ascertain the position of foes and the resources of my command, I have traversed a large portion of the Indian country, and personally inspected the Indian troops and the refugee camps of negroes and Indians that are gathered around our commands, and knowing their interests are still pressed upon you, I present to Your Excellency such crude ideas as seem important to them and my command. The route traversed by me was from Fort Gibson down the Arkansas River to Van Buren, back to Fort Scott, and from thence west to Humboldt and north to Topeka. I thus traversed and skirted most of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Osage, Sac and Fox territories. All the country abounds in rich prairie lands, well timbered, watered, and gently rolling meadows. Fine coal and great salt springs abound, cattle and hogs run wild, and my troops killed them for our subsistence, and the meat was fat and good at this season of a closing hard winter.
But the Indians have entirely abandoned their widely scattered farms and there is no other food in the country. From the limit of white settlements, about 15 miles below Fort Scott, to Fort Gibson, 150 miles, not a human being was found and hardly a track, and everywhere, except close by our posts or in and adjoining white settlements, the Indians have deserted their homes. They are therefore massed as refugees about Fort Scott, Fort Gibson, and in the Sac and Fox Nations, about 40 miles south of Topeka. The Indian Department is furnishing breadstuffs to a considerable extent, but down on the Arkansas I found them at their meals generally eating only meat. These refugees have miserable hovels made of bark, old tents, and sometimes hides. Many told me that they had left comfortable homes and cultivated farms to which they are exceedingly anxious to return.