HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS, Fort Leavenworth, February 29, 1864.
Colonel N. P. CHIPMAN:
COLONEL: I have just received the following dispatch* from General Halleck. You see it evades the issue, the ambiguity, relative to a locus in quo, Fort Smith. In a military sense I insist this includes the town, the heights to be fortified, and the proper outposts. It means this or nothing, and [it] should be stricken from my department. To decide the matter of ambiguity I have suggested the attachment of adjacent counties in Arkansas where the heights and proper outposts are located. I see no difficulty if there is a desire to prevent it.
S. R. CURTIS,
HEADQUARTERS INDIAN BRIGADE, Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation, February 29, 1864.
Commanding Department of Kansas:
SIR: I deemed it proper to report that, as a part of the plan of the campaign of which the late expedition was the beginning, I had designed to clean out the Choctaw Nation in April, or as soon as I could get ammunition and my command in shape. I moved through the Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole Nations because there was corn there to use and take from the enemy, and the make it difficult for them to move on me the only way they could safely. Secondly, by entirely cleaning out that country for 170 miles, by the same width, and leaving neither rebels nor means to organize rebels there, they have to operate on me from Red River with little transportation, and the Choctaw Nation is isolated and cut off.
Although I sent the proclamations and letters of peace to the Chickasaws and Seminoles, all that constitutes these people, tribes or governments, has fled from the country and I do not expect them to come back. The Choctaws I dot no expect, as a nation, to make peace. A considerable number of their people will, and it was to shake the best of them off I sent the letter. I fully agree with what I conceive to be the spirit of your letter to me that it is not now desirable to get back the Choctaws with their rights as a people. They have rebelled so grievously and so wickedly, and can be and would be so troublesome, that I am satisfied that the true policy is to sweep their action with fire and sword so as to terrify and drive out all that would not at once yield in an abject peace. The best of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, nd Seminoles that we took (those we could rely on) we might recruit into the present Indian regiments, treating all who surrendered as you state only with mercy, recognizing none of their former rights.
I am satisfied that if I had the little addition to my force I have asked, I could drive Maxey into Texas if he dared to cross Red River, and clean out the Choctaw Nation by May, so that the Government could, if desired, open it for settlement. I might be justified in saying that, with the addition of a white regiment and battery, I could operate from Washita as a base to Central Texas, but I make
*See Halleck to Curtis, February 28, 1864, p. 462.