instructions before you leave. He desires likewise that a detail of eight or ten men, with a trusty sergeant and corporal, be ordered to report here for courier duty. This detail will not report until you leave.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. S. JOHNSON,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
SHREVEPORT, LA., August 30, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: Since my arrival here I have endeavored to obtain from the best sources all possible information relating to the positions and strength of the enemy's forces in Arkansas, and to the means which are expected to be placed at my disposal for operations against them in that district. I estimate the present forces of the enemy in Arkansas to be at least 16,000 men, exclusive of the troops at Helena, but including those at Fort Smith. These latter may be estimated at 4,000, leaving 12,000 distributed between Devall's Bluff, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff, the two former being connected by a railroad fifty miles in extent. These three posts, I have satisfied myself, are so strongly fortified as to make an assault highly inexpedient. Therefore the only mode of forcing the enemy from Arkansas is to cut his communications and intercept his supplies. As soon as this is seriously threatened the Federal commander-inc-chief on this side of the Mississippi River will probably strengthen General Steele, commanding in Arkansas, by sending to him all the available forces from Helena, Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, Morganza, and perhaps New Orleans and its vicinity, which can be done with great rapidity, he having command of all the navigable streams, and White River, upon which Devall's Bluff is situated, being navigable at all times. There being 6,000 or 8,000 of the enemy's troops at Morganza, Steele can with perfect safety calculate upon at least 10,000 re-enforcements in a few days, which will be 22,000 effective men in fortifications, which it is supposed cannot be carried by assault, or the Federal commander-in-chief, in anticipation of this move, will strengthen his forces at Morganza with the view of threatening Louisiana with the hope of preventing an accumulation of forces in Arkansas. The disadvantages of General Steele's position on Arkansas are that he will have to distribute his forces among the posts above alluded to, or one of these important points will have to be evacuated. Yielding the point that Little Rock cannot be carried by assault, to operate on the enemy's communications it is necessary that our army should cross the Arkansas River in such force as to make it as certain as a pitched battle ever is that we should be able to fight the enemy with success, for the country between the Arkansas and White Rivers becomes, it is said, utterly impracticable after a rain, and the Arkansas River will be between it and its base at Camden. The supplies for our army wherever it may operate in Arkansas must be drawn from Texas on Red River, and our lines of communication from Camden, our depot, to the army must be made secure by a sufficient force of cavalry, whilst the enemy's line of communication with his base at Devall's Bluff should be cut by a force of cavalry equal or superior to any which he can bring, and our infantry be kept in hand prepared to fall upon him whenever he shall offer battle or attempt to retreat.