War of the Rebellion: Serial 062 Page 0857 Chapter XLVI. CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

whilst examining the records of the district, I found a letter from General Smith, recommending two brigades, under Colonel Stand Watie and General Cooper. My instructions from General Smith were to place all the Indian forces under General Cooper. I respectfully call attention to the forces directed to be organized in the spirit of the above two instructions. It will be perceived that I have left a small battalion of whites with that division. My reasons for so doing are, first to secure a very intelligent white officer for frontier service, and, secondly, to leave connected directly with division headquarters a small body of reliable and intelligent white troops to act as scouts and couriers. I cannot too strongly urge upon General Smith the very great importance of competent staff officers to serve with these brigades. They cannot be got here. Unless they are competent I can never send up reliable reports. I can never act advisedly. Here is a body of some 6,000 men, Indians, in the pay of our Government, drawing clothing, rations, and forage. They are uninstructed and will always remain so unless competent instructors are furnished the different regiments. The expense to the Government will be nothing as compared with the good results following from the adoption of a system of thorough instruction.

If I fail to hold this country my reputation will be damned. It will be needless for me to say I had to do the best I could with means wholly inadequate to the task imposed; that I found the army demoralized and disorganized, and drawn back to Red River, where nature has presented no line of defense. If I am unfortunate, in the emphatic language of the army, "I am under." I desire to express myself very plainly about the defense of this country, and I trust General Smith will not regard it as impertinent or disrespectful; most assuredly I do not so intend it. I have lived for a number of years in close proximity to this Territory, and have very closely studied my subject The true defense of this Territory, and consequently of Northern Texas, was north of the Arkansas River. The supplies from the fertile valleys of that river and its tributaries would have been abundant for all purposes. Fortifications [fieldworks] should have been constructed at the different passes along the "divide" between the waters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers to fall back on in case of necessity.

The enemy never should have been permitted to occupy Fort Smith and Fort Gibson. He has now got possession of those points and Waldron, 45 miles south of Fort Smith, on the Line road. What is to be done? The first thing that ought to be done, and speedily, is to drive the enemy out of Waldron back to Fort Smith, and compel him to commence there next spring. This would have been accomplished had Carter's brigade been sent here as I was advised by letters of 10th and 11th ultimo. A day or so after my arrival here and assuming command I directed General Gano, on the Line road, to effect a junction with Carter, and if practicable take Waldron, expressing to him the very great importance of a successful move against that place. It ought to be done yet if an organized body of good troops could be spared to his assistance long enough. In my opinion this force ought not to open the spring campaign on Red River. It should be concentrated and moved to the front as far as practicable. The point suggested by General Cooper [page 6 et seq.] seems to me to present many advantages. If possible we should take the initiative in the spring campaign. I do not believe the enemy will advance in force this winter. Every hour