Fort Smith could be taken it would not be repossessed by the enemy, at lest for this winter, Price's retreat from Missouri secured, and our anxieties regarding the Indian Territory and the Northern Sub-District of Texas relieved at least for the next six months. I have presented the matter fairly to General Magruder, and in my interview at Lewisville directed him if his movement on Little Rock is impracticable to consider the feasibility of operating against Fort Smith. His cavalry, together with the cavalry of your district, makes a formidable force, which can move rapidly and would be encumbered with comparatively little transportation. Beef-cattle in large numbers can be drawn from the neighboring District of Northern Texas, [and] by calling on Major Lanigan supplies to a certain extent can be forwarded by you in rear of the movement, and you may be able to establish depots, which will facilitate the march of the troops. If the force at Fort Smith has not been largely increased by re-enforcements the place may be taken by a rapid march and prompt assault. I referred General Magruder to you for information of the strength of the garrison, the defenses, and the practicability of capturing the post. I have directed him to prepare for the movement so that no time may be lost, to put himself in communication with you, and after consultation to decide upon its practicability. I informed General Magruder that you would be instructed to co-operate with him with the whole disposable force of your district. General Wharton will command the cavalry from the District of Arkansas, and, as the senior officer, will command the expedition. You, I know, if the expedition is undertaken, will give him your full support. Your communication relative to the orders from the District of Arkansas, transferring Gano's brigade to that command has been received. The papers have all been forwarded to General Magruder. The orders were issued by him, I have no doubt, through some misapprehension of instructions from department headquarters, and no official discourtesy was intended you.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
CONFIDENTIAL.] HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS,
Lewisville, November 5, 1864.
Honorable ROBERT W. JOHNSON,
C. S. Senator:
MY DEAR COLONEL: I would have written to you before but have been and am still confined to my bed by an attack of inflammatory rheumatism. Doctor Heermann is kindly writing this for me. The result of our conference was that Little Rock cannot be reached and our army maintained sufficiently long to take it, the insurmountable obstacle being a want of sufficient transportation to haul corn. General Price is evidently falling back from Missouri through Kansas, closely pursued by the enemy in large numbers. General Smith desires Fort Smith to be taken if it be practicable to march there. The expedition to be one cavalry and artillery. He directed me to communicate with General Maxey upon its practicability and the best route. This, he states, will also be a more direct way of relieving Price. If Price's trains, troops, and horses reach Arkansas in safety it will add greatly to our strength in Arkansas. Whilst waiting to hear from Maxey can you ascertain whether it is practicable to support the forces on the road-I mean the horses rather than the men. Wharton is a