Cobb, with a band, on the night of that Thursday, had been seen about 7 miles from this place. A scout just returned from that direction reports that on the night of March 8 they stopped at a house 4 miles north of Williamsburg, and the guard saw a band of 6 or 8 men halting one moment before the house and then riding off at full speed. They report also that there is nothing to be found out from the citizens, who are all rebels, and do not deny that they would go in the brush, but, on the contrary, boats of it.
It is generally asserted that the rebels and Knights of the Golden Circle congregate in the woods, and I think that Graves might have seen one of their meetings, as nothing more has been heard of any band of so large a number. There is not doubt but that they are preparing for a hostile movement. They are better armed than ever before, and have plenty of ammunition. Cobb ranges mostly in the neighborhood of Caleb Berry's, John Board's and Todd's Mill. If I find out any more of his whereabouts, I will have the honor to report it immediately to you by telegraph.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHAS. D. LUDWIG,
MEXICO, MO., March , 1864.
Lieutenant A. A. RICE,
Provost-Marshal, Mexico, Mo.:
DEAR SIR: In answer to your inquiries I would make the following statements, which are the facts so far as known by me, from my own personal observation and from the statements of good, reliable Union men of my acquaintance:
First. The great pressure made upon the authorities for arms has been made by rebels and Southern sympathizers.
Second. Fully three-fourths of the most bitter and determined rebels and Southern sympathizers are well armed with new and efficient arms, far better than at any time since the rebellion; even many of their sons from fourteen to twenty years of age are in possession of arms.
Third. The great majority of the arms now in possession of the rebels and Southern sympathizers, in my judgment, would not be used for the Government if an occasion should be afforded, but would either directly or indirectly be turned against the Government and to the advantage of the enemies thereof.
Fourth. Rebels and Southern sympathizers here have nothing to fear from raiders, guerrillas, and horse thieves, for they have scarcely ever lost any property by them. In some few instances they have lost some property by such parties, but most of these losses have only been temporary, the property having been returned to them through some channel not known to any but the seemingly initiated.
Fifth. The greater portion of the property and money taken by raiders, guerrillas, and thieves has been taken from known Union men. In fact, their policy seems to be such as to use or destroy all the property of Union men.
The order issued by the former commander of this department I believe was intended as a good order and was good in design, in my