HDQRS. CONFEDERATE FORCES IN NORTH. ARKANSAS,
July 27, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel J. F. BELTON,
Assistant Adjutant General, Camden, Ark.:
COLONEL: The heat, the drougth, and the scarcity of forage have not entirely suspended military operations. The expedition I sent to the railroad was successful in tearing up a portion of the track, burning the ties, bending th rails, and destroying the telegraph for miles. An express train which cave thundering along some little time after the scouts left was precipitate from the track, the locomotive and three cars destroyed, and four or five killed who were passengers on the train, mostly soldiers. I have sent 300 men to ravage the Government plantations above Memphis with fire and sword, and 1,200 more to do the same below Helena. Five hundred men sleep on the banks of White River between Saint Charles and Clarendon, and night or day they fire on every living thing that passes up or down. My chief intention in writing this communication to you is to lay before General Price a few arguments in favor of making a raid to Missouri and stating to him what I know to be true about the fitness of the time, the favorable circumstances,a nd the universal desire of the citizens of Missouri that a Confederate force should be sent there:
First. There is no regularly organized Federal force in th State and the militia are scattered, broken up, and worse than useless; this gives easy access to my squadrons, and time for recruits to rally.
Second. The unparalleled tide of Southern victories has so inflamed the minds of a vast proportion of its inhabitants, stimulated by three years of crime and desolation, that they have risen in twenty- six counties and the rebels and militia have fraternized. They call for organized help from the South; they are terribly in earnest; it is death or victory, and with a little encouragement and help 20,000 men would spring to arms.
Third. The entire department is stripped of regulars for Grant and Sherman, and railroads are grass- grown, important towns silent from desertion, depots of supplies unguarded, and from all over the State there is that unquiet shudder that presaged the coming hurricane.
Fourth. I can march north with 5,000 men. I can mount them, arm them, equip them, and place them on a thorough war footing, and all, too, without costing the Government a dollar.
Fifth. I can bring out 5,000 recruits, clothe them, and light a fire of opposition that never can be quenched.
Sixth. Owing to the drought and the large force now accumulating under my command it will be impossible to remain here longer than August. With permission, then, I could sweep through Missouri and return to your command with 10,000 well- mounted, well- clothed,a nd well- armed men. I make these calculations and base my deductions upon the scarcity of Federal regulars, the people, the great desire for a Confederate force to organize and direct their strong but unskillful efforts, and the cheering successes which have crowned our arms and inspired the Missouri people with that most desperate of all courage- fanaticism. I should like very much to have positive answers to my propositions. I suggest nothing, dictate nothing to General Price, but simply place the plain, unvarnished facts before him, knowing that he will do all he can in the premises.
I send this by my quartermaster, who will have to be supplied with funds in the event of my proposition being entertained favorably.