Fort Washita. On yesterday, as I learn by an official copy received to-day, a resolution fully indorsing my administration, civil and military, was adopted. The feeling in the council seems all right. A copy of this properly attested will be forwarded to you. On yesterday I made a general inspection of Fort Washita and found everything in good condition. I then came here, and your letter of the 4th instant got here about one hour after I reached here. I received a letter from General Magruder, dated at Lewisville, 1st instant, in which he proposes to move on Fort Smith in ten days from the time he wrote, asking several questions in relation thereto. I fear very much that he can't make the trip for want of forage. The Indians camped seventeen miles north of this place would have to move on the overland road to Fort Smith, a distance of 155 miles from this place, exclusively on grass, [which] as you know is at this season, this far north, pretty severely bitten by frost. When the command gets there the case, as to forage, is no better. I don't think Magruder will find corn plenty on any road that he can take. I would much rather start to take Fort Smith with infantry than cavalry. The place is pretty well fortified, and would probably stand a shelling, by which our people might suffer as well as the enemy. A plan of their fortifications has heretofore been sent you. Their force is between 3,000 and 4,500, and from fourteen to sixteen pieces of artillery. Besides, can Magruder hold the place if he takes it? Where will be get supplies? If Little Rock and Pine Bluff are taken they will be compelled to leave Fort Smith, and even if they (Little Rock and Pine Bluff) don't fall, and the river between Little Rock and Fort Smith is properly guarded by small bodies of cavalry, energetically managed, with a few pieces of artillery, when the river rises again they can't stay.
The true campaign, in my opinion, was the one I adopted, as shown by my letters to General Cooper of 27th and 28th of June last, copies of which are of file at department headquarters. Had not General Magruder got uneasy about Washington, Fulton, &c., pressing you to issue the order to move Gano's brigade to the line, I believe that in six weeks time from the fight at Cabin Creek such interruption to the enemy's supplies and destruction of hay, would have been made as would have compelled the evacuation of both Fort Smith and Fort Gibson during the winter. As it is, if the Arkansas River (when it rises) is guarded, their supplies coming mainly from Fort Scott and their hay destroyed, or a material part of it, they will be greatly exercised to stay at those places. The most essential advantages to result from taking Fort Smith are, first, the entire repossession of this territory and the relieving the Government of a heavy drain by the return of the Indians to their own country, and, second, by the reoccupation of Western Arkansas the conscript [law] could be enforced. Price is doing far better than I had believed he would. The efforts to oust him will probably not be so great after to-day (election), and if reports from the other side be true. Sherman will need help. I have called on General Cooper for a full statement of what he can do, and will notify General Magruder so soon as received. As I wrote to you last January, so I still think the repossession of Fort Smith and Fort Gibson is of vast importance to this Territory and Northern Texas. The true defense of this country is north of the Arkansas. I yet think the same. Whatever assistance I can render General Magruder you may rely upon implicitly. I greatly fear he is too late, and deeply regret I was not permitted by reason of his call to work out my own plan to the close of the campaign season. I have been using every exertion to have supplies thrown to the front,