HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, March 8, 1864.
Major General J. G. BLUNT:
DEAR GENERAL: Your telegraph from Fayetteville of the 7th makes it quite certain you will reach your destination at Fort Smith to-day. I see you did not go by Fort Gibson, so it will be necessary for you to go soon to inspect and encourage our little force there and make the very best of it. I found a great many officers discontented and many absent from this Indian service. I hope you will infuse new life and hopes into them. We have so few troops it is needless to talk of mustering out a single man, red, white, or black. We must also have more force at the Salt-Works, on the Illinois, where some defenses should be erected to prevent a surprise and give security against assault on the Salt-Works. I gave orders at Fort Gibson to have the fort completed, and will write Colonel Phillips in reply to his letter to me concerning the matter, as he understands my directions given on the ground.
Mr. Tufft called with Colonel Cloud yesterday on his way to join you. I understood General Thayer that he had been discharged, yet he talks of having brought men up with him as though he claimed to be continued in the service. At the time mentioned General Thayer had command of the district, and his orders should, of course, conclude such a matter. None but a very substantial and responsible man should be made chief of scouts, and, if possible, he should be so well known as a man of honesty and integrity as to assure us against such reproaches as we hear against scouts in Arkansas. You will see the property of this and protect us as far as possible against the appearance of evil.
I have a letter from the Secretary of the Interior, brought by General Mitchell, rather complaining of his misadventures being caused last year by promises or expectations held out by commands in the Indian country which were not realized. He more than intimates that General Mitchell would be preferred by him as not likely to disappoint him in such promises or expectation. The imputation seems to be that some officers last year promised to protect and secure the Indians in their peaceable agricultural pursuits. You will, of course, see that no officers promise peace and security in time of war to anybody. We must do what we can to prevent assaults of any kind upon loyal Indians and white men, and for this purpose the troops must be located to the best possible advantage and kept always ready for action. This [is] all we can do, and I have so written to the honorable Secretary. But you see the necessity of more force in your rear, where the inhabitants, white and red, have been so devastated as to leave their homes and farms and go to Washington with complaints of a want of proper protection.
It is my desire that, besides posts along the Arkansas, we have a line of communication and posts from Fort Scott to Fort Gibson, which would give some protection to the Indians and Southern Kansas. But I do not see where the troops are to come from. I am in receipt of your private communication of the 2nd from Fort Scott concerning another assignment of a general officer under you. I will defer that till I hear further from Washington, as you suggest. Write frequently and very fully of matters in your district. Try to preserve terms of courtesy and co-operation with General Thayer and other