HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, March 18, 1864.
Major General J. G. BLUNT,
Fort Smith, Ark.:
DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 2nd, desiring Captain Insley to be assigned to your command, is duly received. He expressed some desire to be at Fort Smith when I first came to the department, but I understood him to prefer his present position. I think he is the best man for the chief, and your supplies much, very much, depend on his efforts. I have put him at that work first of all things, by sending him with special instructions to Saint Louis, where he has started stores by steamers, and also giving him orders to start trains for Fort Gibson. All these matters are better carried out under one head, with depot quartermasters at posts. I am in great need of more good quartermasters, and have so reported to the Quartermaster-General, who will probably send a corps to report soon.
Your dispatches and communications on the subject of troops seem to give up the point which I took first. I have insisted that the words in my orders, "including the military post of Fort Smith," makes the city of Fort Smith, and troops guarding it, part of the Department of Kansas, and I had so presented the matter at Washington for the determination of the Department. For that reason I directed you to use the words in my order, so the matter should be left open as to where the department lines would fall and where troops belong. You send the words of Order Numbers 1, but in the same dispatch say, "the troops are all in the Department of Arkansas," which statement of yours will, I fear, be taken as conclusive by showing that Steele rightfully commands all in the neighborhood of Fort Smith.
They also seem to stand firm at Washington on the old unexplained order, although I have urged every possible reason upon every branch of the Government. Chipman, too, is using every effort to procure more troops for my department, backed by the Kansas and other Representatives. If, however, they adhere to the idea that nothing is meant by Fort Smith, make the point that troops west of the Arkansas line on the 1st of January, the day my order is dated, should be returned to my command. Mr. McDonald thinks the Sixth, Twelfth, Fourteenth, and the First African were west of the Arkansas line on that day, and some batteries also. Your dispatch of this morning says "the Eighteenth Iowa and Second Kansas Battery were in the Department of Kansas on the 1st of January."
This again seems to waive the main points as to where the department lines fall, again seeming to give it up that Fort Smith is not in the Department of Kansas. But without deciding that point I have telegraphed again, and hope you will inquire carefully and report fully the exact locations of troops and headquarters of troops, not in reference to department lines, which are equivocal, but in relation to geographical lines on the 1st day of January, 1864. Be careful, pending the question in Washington, not to give any orders to troops not clearly belonging to my department, the Indian lines as the divide, since, as you perceive, General Thayer had full control before either you or I reached the part of the department. The order to return troops must now come from Washington.
If you get no telegraph informing you of a favorable determination as to the question of department lines before this letter reaches