[Inclosure No. 2.] DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, Washington, D. C., March 4, 1864.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I am much disappointed with your letter of the 2nd instant, in answer to mine of the 11th ultimo, referring the communication of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, asking protection for the goods of licensed Indian traders in transitu to the Indian country. I am constrained to think that the request has been misunderstood, and that it was supposed the Commissioned of Indian Affairs was anticipating a pledge of absolute protection from the War Department to the traders he had licensed.
The facts are these: Early in the commencement of the war nearly 10,000 Indians escaped from the Indian country into Kansas, where they have been maintained at great expense to the Government, producing nothing. It is necessary to send them home to their own country.
Before the war they had improved and good farms and houses, and lived in comparative independence and possessed of many luxuries; now they are destitute, and this Department has not the immediate means at its control to provide for those already in the Indian country and to establish these refugees in their homes. The licensed traders have undertaken to supply these people with goods and provisions, and have invested a large sum in merchandise and provisions, which are now in Saint Louis, awaiting the action of the Government and the first safe opportunity to get their goods into the country. I am very anxious that they should be permitted to carry these goods into the country and have such protection as the circumstances will reasonably justify.
Besides these goods of the traders, various charitable persons have sent forward to Saint Louis, I understand, several packages of goods for distribution to the Indians. It is important that these also should go forward.
It is not expected that the War Department will do more in this instance than to allow the traders to forward their supplies and this Department to send the good given in charity, under convoy, with the army supplies to Forts Smith and Gibson, and with the same protection. It is designed to forward the goods by the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers into the Indian country, and I trust you will find it proper to direct the general officers in command at Saint Louis, in Arkansas, and in the Indian Territory to give such military protection and facility of transportation to the places of destination-such transportation to be at the expense of the traders-as may conveniently be done without unnecessarily interfering with the action of the troops.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. USHER,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, March 5, 1864.
Brigadier General JOHN McNEIL,
Saint Louis, Mo.:
GENERAL: Yours of the 26th [February], 1864, is duly received. You being within the Department of the Missouri, and receiving