12,000, 4,000 of which were indifferently armed cavalry. With my heart in this movement, and feeling the importance of the Arkansas to us, I was reluctantly forced by facts to the conviction that an advance would then have sacrificed the little army on which rests the hopes of your State. At this advanced season, with the swollen condition of the streams, a repulse from the works at Little Rock would have proved more disastrous than the affair at Helena.
Under a vigorous enforcement of the conscript law the Arkansas regiments are rapidly filling up. Dockery has collected the river a considerable addition will be made to the command of General Holmes before spring. The terms of service of some of the best regiments in Steele's army soon expire, and from the information received there seems but little disposition to re-enlist. I shall hold the Washita, and, throwing the cavalry out beyond the Saline, control the country below Pine Bluff and draw out the supplies from the lower Arkansas and the Bartholomew. A failure at Little Rock, which both General Holmes in his desperation and Fagan in his most sanguine mood admitted would probably be the result, would not only have lost Arkansas and all our hopes for the spring, but would justly have lost me the confidence of the people and have impaired, if not entirely destroyed, my efficiency as department commander. Dr. Mitchell can tell you, as was evident to me on my recent trip through the State, that the feelings of the people and their confidence in the Government and the success of our cause has and is daily improving. Neither the defection of Grant nor the wise and conciliatory policy of Steele has gained many valuable adherents to the Federals. They have made recruits from amongst the mountain men and disaffected, but our own people are generally confirmed in their loyalty. I do not know where Gorgas gets his authority. I know that he is mistaken. I have no record in my office of any arms having been received in this department, since my arrival, from the Ordnance Department. The 1,800 which I reported having successfully crossed at Natchez [I believe I have overestimated the number] were flintlock and altered muskets reported to me to have been sent over for the people of Arkansas under the charge of a Mr. Pearce. Four thousand rifles were some two months since landed at the mouth of the Rio Grande, and arms are being received under arrangements made for their crossing at points on the Mississippi.
I shall protest against the sending of any more supernumerary brigadier-generals to this department, in search of commands, when I have already three officers of that grade shelved away somewhere in the interior of Texas, comfortably drawing their pay in retirement. Officers of lower grade I can dispose of, for I propose organizing the supernumeraries with which every district of this department is infested into companies and put muskets in their hands; this will drive every worthless fellow to seek refuge with his command east of the Mississippi. The Government must not send me any more cast off material. I want support, and able support. Taylor is the only district commander in whom I can rely; he is a good soldier and a man of ability, and could he only forget his habits and training as a politician, would be all that could be asked. General Holmes is a true patriot, faithful, and devoted; time, his troubles, and responsibilities have preved upon him, his memory is failing, he has no confidence in himself, and is without fixity of purpose. I love him for