IRONTON, MO., March 2, 1864.
SIR: After waiting impatiently for almost two years for protection on the south border of Missouri, and hearing also that you had been misinformed concerning the condition of the border of the State, including Oregon, Ripley, Carter, and butler Counties, being that I am a citizen of Ripley County, I now take the liberty to write you a few lines to let you know our desperate condition. There ranges in those counties above named bands of robbers, some citizens of that county and others, that have run from up north in this State and concentrated on the line, which numbers from 600 to 1,000 men, which consists of the notorious Reves, Freeman, Reed, Boze, Barnes, and others. These bands range between our posts, Patterson, Mo., and Batesville, Ark., which is near 150 miles between. The barbarous and insufferable treatment the Union men and families get from those bands, at their discretion, the records of history hardly has a parallel.
The Union men are hunted, and if found are shot or killed in some other way, and often our families are shamefully and grossly insulted by these desperate bloody-handed bushwhackers. Nor is this the worst. We not having the liberty to make a crop last year, and our property and provisions being taken away from us by those bands, there are many families without relief [who] shortly will be reduced to starvation, and unless we can have some protection, there will be over half the farms in the above-named counties that will go uncultivated this year. If there could be a post held either at Doniphan, Mo., or Pocahontas, Ark., it would give us relief, and if we are not allowed to have it, we will have to resort to some means to move our families out from there, and will give all that scope of country up to the worst rebel bushwhackers there are in all the West. Scouting through that country will never civilize it. There has been scouting through there that has killed and captured a great many of them, but as soon as our scouts turn back, they come out of the brush and return to their former depredations.
And hoping among the many thousands there is in the field that your honor will send a few to our relief,
Most respectfully, yours, &c.,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, March 2, 1864.
Brigadier General E. B. BROWN,
Commanding Central District, Warrensburg, Mo.:
GENERAL: I am directed by the major-general commanding the department of acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 14th ultimo, relative to the counties of Cass, Jackson, and Bates being added to a district composed of the country adjoining in Kansas, &c. The commanding general approves of your views upon this subject. He sees no force in moving the line eastward, for there would still be a border. Prompt action and just administration under existing orders from these headquarters will doubtless insure adequate protection.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,