HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI, New Orleans, La., November 26, 1864.
Major General J. J. REYNOLDS,
Commanding Department of Arkansas:
SIR: I am directed by the major-general commanding to inclose herewith copy of General Orders, Numbers 71* assigning you to the command of the Department of Arkansas and Seventh Army Corps. You are authorized to retain or relieve any of the officers of the present department staff, and, in place of those relieved, assign officers from the staff of your old corps. Recent advices from Memphis show that everything is quiet in that neighborhood, and that the late heavy rains have made the roads impassable for large bodies of troops; still it is desirable to keep the reserve forces now on the Mississippi in their present position until no apprehension need be entertained, either for the safety of the posts on the east bank of the Mississippi, or of the line of communication to Little Rock. Lieutenant Earl reports that the rebels have, to all appearances, given up the idea of crossing the Mississippi in any considerable force. While I am inclined to believe that they are getting wearied of our vigilance, I think they will require watching a little longer, and at least until Beauregard's movements are more fully developed. The instructions given to General Steele on the 16th instant in relation to fortifying certain posts in Arkansas, &c. (copy of which was forwarded to you), apply with equal force now, and I am specially directed to request that the order for the abandonment of Fort Smith and its dependencies may be carried into effect as soon as possible, and the garrisons and supplies withdrawn to Little Rock. As a matter of course everything that might be of value to the enemy in the neighborhood of Fort Smith, such as mills, &c., will be destroyed.
I am instructed to request that you will examine into and consider the expediency of establishing a post at Batesville, on the White River, with a view of relieving that fertile section of the State from the rebel rule under which it has hitherto suffered, and take such action in the matter as you may deem expedition. Under the authority given you by the President, you are empowered to give any orders, in the name of the commanding general, outside the limits of the Department of Arkansas, which you may think necessary for the good of the service; and it is specially desired that the reserve force on the Mississippi River should be kept under your eye until a permanent commander has been assigned. Your views in relation to the trade in cotton and supplies, under the recent Treasury and Executive orders, as expressed in your dispatch to the headquarters of the army, are concurred in, and General Buford has been directed to issue no more permits. The one already given by him has been revoked. His district being now directly under your command, you can, of course, hereafter regulate those matters yourself. A general order will be issued from these headquarters at an early day fully covering all cases of this character. Until further instructions are received from Washington, no interference with military operations and no modifications of existing orders will be permitted on any account whatsoever. General Davidson starts from Baton Rouge to-morrow morning with the main portion of the cavalry of the Department of the Gulf, to co-operate with General Dana's expedition from Vicksburg, which was to have left yester-
*See p. 674.