War of the Rebellion: Serial 085 Page 1103

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Page 1103

<NN>I would be glad to have the order suspended for the removal of Harrison's brigade until General Smith shall receive an important letter which goes by courier to-day.

Major-General, Commanding.


Camden, October 12,1864.

Commanding Trans-Mississippi Department, Shreveport, La.:

GENERAL: I have learned that General Steele has sent heavy re-enforcements from Little Rock to Pine Bluff, and that Grierson's force of cavalry with Mower's division, of A.J. Smith's corps, have gone into Missouri in pursuit of Major-General Price. I think the garrison at Little Rock has been thus much reduced. The troops from Morganza, La., at least the larger portion of them, are still at the mouth of White River, or on White River, say 5,000 men. A diversion ought to be made in favor of Price by some decided move here, and perhaps such movements, if they are practicable, may result in permanent advantage to us. I think I can bring into the field 8,000 effective infantry and 4,000 cavalry, including Logan's command and the State troops under Colonel Newton. The force expected from Maxey, and probably now en route to Laynesport, will be added, say 3,000 more, to which should be added Carter's regiment, the strength of which I do not know, probably about 400, and if another regiment from Texas should arrive soon we might calculate upon 8,000 effective cavalry, including Harrison's (Louisiana) brigade, now under orders to Louisiana, that is if they can be spared. I have not yet received your decision on my application for them, and unless I do affirmatively they will of course take up the line of march immediately for Alexandria. No time has been lost by the application. I thought it best to make the attempt to capture Little Rock, and if affairs do not change I propose to operate in the following manner: By not having a supply train at all adequate to the support of the army now here, I would first send all the division trains for supplies of commissary stores, say 200 wagons, which will carry 300,000 rations of meal or flour-to deposit 150,000 rations at this place, which I am fortifying well, and 150,000 in front, say Arkadelphia; then to take all the flour and corn in these wagons and march rapidly and direct for Little Rock; to carry it by assault, if possible, with 8,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry and the field artillery; to throw in the meantime 6,000 cavalry across the Arkansas above Little Rock to destroy the railroad and drive back re-enforcements on the other side of the Arkansas, coming either from Devall's Pine Bluff, or Saint Charles, or the mouth of White River; to attack re-enforcements should they march from Pine Bluff on this side to Little Rock, and if I could not carry Little Rock by assault to try to starve it out. In either case we should hold the valley of the Arkansas and make Steele leave the State, except that portion bordering on the Mississippi River, and should at least keep the means of retreat open for General Price should he be forced back, unless indeed he should be surrounded by very largely superior forces. If we fail in taking Little Rock we should produce a powerful diversion in Price's favor. I should feel very sanguine of success had I the assistance of the siege train from Texas.

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