HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, December 29, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 24th instant, giving instructions in relation to refugees. When I assumed command here I found that Price's raid had driven here people from all parts of Missouri literally stripped of everything and entirely destitute. You had some experience of this in 1861, and now when Price roamed all over the State you can form some idea of the extent of the rush hither and destitute condition of these people. I found that many had been placed in buildings which the chief quartermaster informed me belonged to Union men who would have a good claim against Government for use thereof; that they were scattered all over the city. This I took immediate measures to stop, and took the old Lawson Hospital and fitted it up for the purpose, instructing the chief quartermaster that if the Government declined to pay the rents, &c., I would (provided the War Department decided the owners were entitled to rent, which case it now has under investigation, it being claimed the owners are disloyal) reimburse him from the collection of rents from occupants of buildings owned by rebels and disloyal parties who have quitted the State. The Sanitary Commission have agreed to take care of these people, the Government furnishing the buildings. The commissary had furnished these people rations under Orders, Numbers 30, War Department, series 1864, and being convinced that too many are living off of us, I have taken measures to stop this and feed those only who are actually destitute and deserving. In the spring I intend to get rid of them as far as possible by sending them to their homes and placing them upon the abandoned farms. The fact is we cannot make the civil authorities do more than they are now doing, and I believe the plan I have adopted to be the best possible, and I respectfully request that the War Department approve my action in the matter. the amount I will have to collect will be from $8,000 to $10,000, and it can be done very readily and quietly, the renters of the buildings much preferring to pay the rents of Government instead of to the disloyal owners. It is possible a few among the disloyal residents may have to contribute. I herewith inclose an order* I issued relative to this subject before receiving your letter.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
FORT LEAVENWORTH, December 29, 1864.
Is it certain that Fayetteville and Fort Smith are vacated? I want to send troops that way to Little Rock, but they are not strong enough if these places are vacated. We are interested in the matter of those posts. Has my son. Major Curtis, arrived at Saint Louis?
S. R. CURTIS,
*See General Orders, Numbers 238, December 27, p. 944.