take the initiative, the good flowing from which, if it can safely and properly be done, need not be pointed out to you, only I add that all the good effect on white troops will be increased here, where the bulk of the force is Indians, who regard their country as pretty much abandoned, who would be elated at the idea of recovering it, and who with that end would cheerfully return to the ranks. I have a very few dismounted cavalry [no infantry], Bass' regiment, about 200 effective, all of whom I have ordered to Boggy Depot. General Orders, No. 6, to which I called your attention for the proposed disposition of the troops, was unintentionally omitted and is forwarded to Colonel Anderson to-day, to be filed with the other papers. It will give you the arrangement of the Indians, as also that for frontier defense, not mentioned in this communication.
I have no official advice that Waldron has been evacuated. If so it is strange I do not hear of it from General Gano, or rather Colonel Battle, General Gano being sick. I have a spy out in that direction who I am satisfied would have notified me. I have already opened communication with General Cabell. I am rejoiced to hear of a prospect for guns. This command is miserably provided with arms, and many not at all. You think my estimate of enemy's strength exaggerated. That letter was dated December 29. I had been in command but a few days, and gave the best information I had. The point, however, that I thought you would then be most interested in was that a movement somewhere from Fort Smith was on foot, and, although they said Texas, I believed Little Rock. I call your attention to my letter addressed to Colonel Anderson January I, as giving what I then and now regard as accurate information. You say:
Above all, general, he [you] directs me to urge upon you the importance of getting constantly accurate and reliable information of the enemy's strength, movements, and if possible his future plans.
I believe, general, that I have never been derelict in this regard in any position in life, in the army or at the bar, and I flatter myself if I have a well-established character for anything it is for that very thing.
Before the reception of your letter last night I had been at work. No man can be too cautious in the selection of men for secret service. I have a shrewd, intelligent Indian who spends his time in the canebrake between the Arkansas and Poteau, near Fort Smith, and gets information through his women, who have the run of the town. I have a keen, shrewd white man who works at both Waldron and Fort Smith. I was trying a man, yesterday, of intelligence, who has long lived in and about Fort Smith and who has a free pass and safeguard for his property from McNeil. I believe him to be true. He informed me that a Texas Yankee who had fled his country had sent him with his miniature to his wife in Texas. Happening to know the people, I sent him there to look into the workings of a gang of traitors with whom he would be hail fellow by reason of his [McNeil's] pass, and in the mean time I had him watched. He is to bring out any leters this set may want to send, which I will be apt to see. I have the means of trying him in more ways than one. If he is true, and I have now no reason to doubt, he will be a most valuable acquisition. There is no difficulty in finding plenty of men to act as spies and spending a great deal of money and learning nothing. I shall employ no man in whom I have not implicit confidence, and