in numbers, not exceeding 1,000 effective men. My militia had left me at Fort Scott, supposing very reasonably that the united regular volunteers were enough to pursue Price. I saw no alternative, and with mortification turned from the retreating foe. Both General Rosecrans and General Pleasonton were 100 mules in my rear, and it seemed impossible to correct the mistake. I am sure they would not have withdrawn their troops if they had been present, both supposing I could not again overtake Price. I had fallen back twelve miles to this place, when I received your dispatch, informing me that "the lieutenant-general desires that Price shall be pursued to the Arkansas," and I immediately issued orders announcing this to all the troops, directing them to return by the shortest lines to the pursuit.
I still occupy a debatable position, and have telegraphed General Rosecrans my desire, that, as a large majority of the troops are his, he should come and assume the command. The necessity of pushing Price's forces beyond the Arkansas is so obvious I have not hesitated to disregard department lines, and act only in view of results which seem to involve the safety of our little garrisons in front, and the future peace of the inhabitants of Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. I was not well when I started, and have been eighteen days without changing my clothes, but I am now well and willing to do all in my power to execute the wishes of the lieutenant-general, and only fear that conflicts or doubts in relation to orders may embarrass my movements. Price is now entering a mountainous country very destitute of supplies, and his men were actually falling dead with starvation in his rear. They hang together under the impression that we kill all prisoners, a false-hood well calculated to retain his forces intact. He still has three pieces of artillery, and his numbers continue very great. He has destroyed most of his train and is very destitute, but all his men being mounted he continues to make rapid progress, which can only be overcome by extraordinary efforts on the part of our troops. The delay occasioned by General Rosecrans' orders will be equivalent to thirty-six hours, but it is partially compensated by a little rest and food which we are enabled to procure in this vicinity. I must, in conclusion, say that I desire to avoid all reproachful imputations against Generals Rosecrans and Pleasonton, who have acted no doubt upon their best judgment of things as seen at their own standpoints, and I must award to General Pleasonton high commendation for his skill and gallantry on the field. I do not mean, however, to depreciate others of whom I shall speak in my proper reports, and who have not only been gallant on many fields but constantly willing to aid me to the utmost of human endurance to carry out what I consider a complete result of this campaign.*
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
S. R. CURTIS,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE BORDER,
In the Field, Neosho, October 30, 1864 - 1 a. m.
An order just received from Lieutenant-General Grant directing the pursuit of price to be continued to the Arkansas River seems to conflict with your order V the troops of General Pleasonton to their
* For this dispatch as quoted by Curtis, see Part I, p. 512.