of supplies and at this season offering almost insurmountable physical obstacles to the march of armies. In Arkansas we hold the line of the Washita; the cavalry are thrown out well to the front, exhausting and withdrawing the supplies from the lower Arkansas and Bartholomew. The infantry are posted so that they can concentrate rapidly with the force in Louisiana on an advance of the enemy up the Red River Valley.
The works and obstructions in Red River and the Washita are being pushed as rapidly as the limited means at our disposal will admit. We are sadly embarrassed by the want of heavy artillery.
The enemy this spring will make vigorous efforts to possess themselves of Red and Washita Rivers, and, fortifying the strategic points, Monroe and Alexandria, they will control the navigation and effectually separate the department from the Government east of the Mississippi. I trust Congress has provided for this contingency and legislated to meet our future wants; cut off from the seat of government, especially in the Treasury Department is this needed. We are now embarrassed for the want of funds, and from the movement of the enemy in Texas and the action of the Mexican authorities, even that long and uncertain channel may be closed.
I am happy to state that there is a better condition of feeling throughout the department than has existed at any time since the fall of Vicksburg. This may in part be due to the suspension of operations, but there is an evidence of loyalty and determination to resist to the bitter end, fast succeeding the apathy and despair which marked the public pulse a few months since. The enemy, especially the Federal commander in Arkansas, are pursuing a conciliatory policy toward our people, which evinces more wisdom and foresight than has hitherto characterized their course. As yet their insidious policy has been productive of no harm, but if persisted in we must expect a formidable party for reconstruction to spring up on the heels of further disaster to our cause. There has been much discontent in the Indian Department. It resulted from the loss of territory, from failure to comply with promises of arms and supplies made them, and from a want of confidence and distrust of their commander. This has been in part removed by placing General Maxey in command and by explaining that the Government has endeavored in good faith to carry out its promises, but has been prevented by circumstances beyond its control. Should the arms expected across the Mississippi arrive a proportion will be immediately dispatched to the Indian Department.
I have been much embarrassed by the inefficient and supernumerary officers sent to this department. There is no command under the Government in which able and efficient supports are so much needed as this. The District of Louisiana is ably commanded. In Arkansas the efficiency of the district commander is impaired by the loss of confidence of the army and people; time also tells upon him, lessening his activity and impairing his memory. With Your Excellency, I know there is no purer man, no truer patriot than General Holmes. From my own personal experience I know that, with perfect abnegation of self, his mind is absorbed with the cause he supports and the district intrusted to his charge, but I conscientiously believe its interests would be advanced by placing a younger and more energetic officer in command.
I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,