them a speedy "wiping out of the rebellion." The soldiers at Devall's Bluff are mostly new men, with new, fresh horses, and are scouting heavily up and down the railroad.
It has been impossible for me to move against the enemy thus far, owing to the reduced condition of my stock and their utter and complete prostration from long and arduous service. From all the information before me, I am satisfied that Little Rock will not be given up without a fight.
The Federal commander is accumulating a large supply of ordnance and artillery train at the Bluff, besides getting all the reenforcements possible and concentrating his outposts and detachments. It this country here could have rest, and time was given to harvest the growing crops, it would be a spending half-way house to fit out an expedition to Missouri. Thus far I have had no trouble with the various commanders in this section of the State, they all expressing a willingness to co-operate with me, which they evidenced by reporting immediately. I find Colonel McCray a brave, energetic, intelligent officer, one who is willing to work and willing to fight, and to give him a brigade I shall use my greatest exertions. I have thought it strange, and still think so, that I have heard nothing from you since my arrival here, nor even since I left Ouachita River. The reason may be the difficulty of communication and the distance to be traveled through the enemy's line where we have no organized troops. Everything in Virginia is progressing finely. I send you late papers containing all the information that the been received in this country. The Federal lines are strongly guarded, and no one is allowed to go out or come in. I find many cases in which the planters have liberated their slaves virtually and them hired them to work again, besides taking Lincoln's amnesty oath.
The speculation in cotton has been carried on heretofore with marked fraud, and Confederate officers have required citizens to pay them a blackmail in greenbacks of one-tenth of the amount the cotton brings. In every case the speculators have permits from Confederate authorities to enter the Federal lines at will and trade in every and all kinds of produce. I invariably arrest the party so trading, and shalls soon send a batch of these Shylocks to Camden unless the illicit traffic is discontinued. I would like very much to have full and explicit order on the above subjects. Unless it is stopped now by ar iron hand cotton will be the entire staple raised, to the exclusion of everything else. The various commanders of regiments, companies, and squads have been possessed of a vexatious spirit of dissension and strife, returning to co-operate with each other, embarrassing the cause and weakening their strength. To a great extent I have destroyed this feeling and broken down their barrier of pride and jealousy. I would suggest that if I could receive orders to move north, which would be thankfully received, that Colonel McCray be placed in command of all troops in this country. He is deservedly popular with the citizens, and if he had had entire command heretofore the men would have been organized and in some shape. If these men are still allowed to speculate in and raise cotton and hire their negroes, it will be better to abandon this country altogether.
I am, colonel, very respectfully,
JNO. O. SHELBY,