WASHINGTON, D. C., March 12, 1864.
Major General S. R. CURTIS,
Fort Leavenworth, Kans.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 28th of February has been received and immediately submitted to the Secretary of War and Lieutenant-General Grant for their instructions. The Secretary informed me he had received a similar communication from yourself. I had also submitted to him your previous letters on the same subject. While waiting the instructions of my superiors in regard to your letter, I beg leave to correct some misapprehension in regard to one or two points. In the first place, the censure implied in your statement that the inclusion of Fort Smith in your department is entirely "void of all military meaning" must fall upon the President and not upon me. The division of the former Department of Missouri and the designation of the boundaries of the new departments were not my acts, but the acts of the President.
You also complain that this designation of boundaries left your department without a sufficient number of troops for its defense. When the order was issued no one here knew exactly where the troops were stationed or what troops would be found in either of the new departments when the order reached there. The fact that particular officers commanded at that time troops on both sides of the new line gave General Steele no authority to control those in your department, nor you to control any in this department. The same remark applies to General Rosecrans' command. If brigades and regiments happened to be divided by the department line designated in the President's order the proper course was to apply to the Adjutant-General of the Army to order their concentration in one or the other of the new departments.
In regard to the Ninth Kansas Regiment, the application to send it into the field was made and approved before the division o the department was made. I do not now remember, if I knew, why the order was not sooner issued. I remember, however, it was asked for and approved by the local authorities. I did not initiate it, nor have I since the change of departments directed any change in the disposition of troops in them. Your application for a change in the present boundaries of your department, and for additional troops in your command, cannot be decided by me, but must wait the decision of General Grant and the War Department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
WASHINGTON, March 13, 1864-12.30 p.m.
General Steele telegraphs that Banks, with 17,000, and Sherman, with 10,000 men, move from Alexandria on Shreveport and wish him to co-operate. He says that he can go with 7,000 effective men, but objects to the movement on account of bad roads and guerrillas, and prefers to remain on the defensive line of the Arkansas. I have replied that he should co-operate with Banks and Sherman, unless