It is likely that I shall be compelled to fall back to Washington to-morrow. I have had additional information of their force since last report.
Very respectfully, major, your obedient servant,
WM. G. VINCENT,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, La., March 14, 1864.
Major General STERLING PRICE:
GENERAL: I inclose you extracts from letters to General Holmes. You have been placed in command of the District of Arkansas. General Holmes has been relieved and ordered to report in person at the War Department. We are on the eve of active operations, threatened by superior numbers, and will probably soon have Banks', Sherman's, and Steele's commands on our hands. By a gentleman just from Vicksburg I learn that six transport with re-enforcements from Sherman's command passed up the river; Little Rock was their reported destination. We must be prepared for a simultaneous movement from Berwick Bay, Vicksburg, and Little Rock. Your command should be in easy supporting distance, so that it can be concentrated without delay. What is the condition of the defenses at Camden? I regard it as the most important point in your line of defense. You will then not only oppose a direct advance from Little Rock, but should the main column under Sherman move from Vicksburg by way of Monroe it will have you on its flank. With your immense superiority of cavalry an advance of Steele into our exhausted and impoverished country must be attended with great risk, and should result in the destruction of his command. All transportation, provisions, &c., should be moved to our rear before his advance, while the cavalry occupy his communications and destroy his trains. Instruct the people that as Sherman passed through Mississippi houses, fences, barns were burned, and stock of every description was killed, while all the farming implements were destroyed. This is the policy which will be adopted in their present campaign. You will have to exert all your energies in preparing to meet the storm. Call upon the Governor to bring promptly into the field every man who can be used under the State organizations. Prepare in advance small depots of supplies, which can be used on those lines on which you will have to operate between Shreveport and Camden. general Maxey has been directed to hold his command near Laynesport, in the southeastern portion of the Indian Territory, so as to be ready to co-operate with your command in case necessity requires it. Parsons' cavalry brigade has been ordered to rendezvous at marshall, Tex., for the abe purpose, though it will probably be three weeks before the concentration can be effected. General Magruger has been ordered to send up his disposable troops, though the disbanding of the State forces has left very few in his district except the garrisons, which cannot be relieved.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
66 R R - VOL XXXIV, PT II