HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, Mo., April 21, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to transit inclosed a letter from Major-General Reynolds,* and some notes on the routes from Arkansas River to Red River, made by Captain Wheeler, chief engineer, Department of Arkansas. The difficulties and obstacles in the way in carrying out the campaign proposed by me in my letter of the 8th instant will be apparent to you. That they can be overcome is. I think, reasonably certain; and that the decisive and speedy results which be secured by the successful execution of this plan are worth the labor and privation, seems also not unreasonable to believe. I regret very much that General Reynolds, commanding Department of Arkansas, does not view favorably any movement south from the direction of the Arkansas River, but I know very well that I can safely confide is his zealous and faithful co-operation in any movement determined on.
The difficulties, as you will observe, are found in the fact that a belt of country nearly 200 miles in breadth, between the Arkansas and Red Rivers, entirely destitute of supplies of any kind for man ro animal, interposes between us and the enemy. This devastated and desolate region must be traversed by an army carrying all supplies with it, over difficult and neglected roads. On the most westerly routes from Fort Smith grass in sufficient quantities to subsist our animals can be had. It is probable that the utterly destitute character of the country may require the movement of our heaviest columns to be made from Fort Smith. We shall need, above all, two things which, indeed, are vital to success.
First. Western troops accustomed to long marches and to half rations and habituated to forage for themselves upon the country. I know no such troops except those in the army of Sherman or Schofield. With the troops which have been occupied in Eastern Virginia I would not be willing to undertake such a campaign.
Second. We shall need the very best and strongest mules and wagons which can be had. I respectfully request that you instruct General Allen to send to wagons and mules to Arkansas except the very best, and in the best condition.
We need at least two-and better still, three-good pontoon trains. There are none in this command.
I send you an estimate of the transportation required to render such a campaign practicable. I do not consider it certain that we shall be able to move as early as June.
First. While we might be ready, it is more than likely, in view of the high waters which already prevail and of the continued wet weather indicating still greater floods, that the streams in Arkansas will be over their banks and the enemy's lands impassable until a later day. I believe, general, that the plan of operations I propose is practicable with energy and perseverance. That it will be difficult I know, but it promises complete results and is, I think, worth the effort and toil. Nevertheless I am by no means so committed to it that I am not ready and willing to adopt any other which may seem to you easier, lees liable to failure, and sufficiently satisfactory. There is no doubt that if Canby's force, or the larger part of it, goes to the coast of Texas and can occupy such points as will intercept the rebel retreat across the Rio Grande an easier and perhaps sufficiently successful movement
* See Reynolds to Pope, April 14, p. 94.