I was relieved of command at Fort Smith, which, with all the Indian Territory, was transferred to the Department of Arkansas. I was only in command of the Indian Territory in 1864 from March 12 to April 18,and having no troops during that period my command certainly cannot be charged with bad conduct. I have not operated in the Indian Territory since, except to pass through a small portion in the recent campaign against the rebel army under General Price while we were pursuing him through the Department of Missouri and Arkansas, and driving him across the Arkansas River; and in this instance the march was so rapid, and through a section of country entirely depopulated, that I am quite certain that no citizen of the Cherokee Nation suffered from depredation committed by my command.
I am credibly informed from reliable sources that since the transfer of the Indian Territory to the Department of Arkansas, that not only have gross military blunders occurred in the department - the result of either incompetency or cowardice - which has given the control of the entire country (outside of garrisoned posts) to the rebels, but that gross corruption has prevailed throughout the various staff departments, and I would suggest that it is quite probable that my names has in some way become confounded with the names of General Steele or General Thayer. But in relation to the administration of military affairs in the Department of Arkansas, embracing the Indian Territory, the War Department will soon be fully advised from the report of Major General F. J. Herron, who has recently made in inspection of that department by direction of Major-General Canby.
In General Halleck's letter of the 3rd of October, the following paragraph occurs:
If we are to believe one-tenth of what has been stated in letters sent through the Secretary of the Interior in regard to the conduct of a part of your troops, especially those under the command of General Blunt, both officers and men are little better than highway robbers or rebel bushwhackers.
I regret very much that this portion of General Halleck's letter can only be construed as personal and insulting. In it I readily recognize the same animus and spirit of persecution that has persistently followed me from the same source for nearly three years, and which nothing but a spirit of forbearance for the good of the cause in which we are engaged would have so long permitted me to pass by without complaint. The history of the troops that I have commanded has been written in blood. Their history is the history of successful military operations west of the Mississippi River in spite of all the embarrassments thrown in their way, of which the country yet knows but little. In me they will ever find a defender of their reputations and their honor, and when a true history of this great contest for the preservation of the Government shall be written, I have no fears that their reputations as soldiers will suffer when compared with the record of those who, although holding high official positions in the military service, have never yet since the commencement of the war seen the smoke or heard the sound from the enemy's guns.
In concluding this report I would respectfully suggest that application be made to the Secretary of War for the appointment of a board to make a complete investigation of the administration of military affairs in the Indian Territory since its first occupation by Federal forces.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. G. BLUNT,