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10 Series I Volume XXII-II Serial 33 - Little Rock Part II

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Page 10 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, January 2, 1863.

Brigadier General WILLIS A. GORMAN, Helena, Ark.:

GENERAL: I am moving the Army of the Frontier eastward, but cautiously. They have to move on the north side of the Boston Mountains, not being able to get supplies in the immediate valley.

If you received my late letters, you will understand my reasons for apprehending great difficulty in using the Arkansas River as a military line of operations. We want both the White and Arkansas, so you can fall back on the White River if the Arkansas dries up, as it will. Helena will also have to be occupied, and I hope you have not even temporarily abandoned it. We must have a position for stores which is not liable to be overflowed.

Colonel Chipman says remonstrances have been sent against detention of troops at Columbus. This was by order of General Halleck, and probably necessary to you and to the country.

Hindman is either moving east or south. It is very likely he will try to form a junction with General Holmes.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

SAML. R. CURTIS,

Major-General.


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, January 2, 1863.

Colonel N. P. CHIPMAN, Helena:

DEAR COLONEL: Happy New Year to you and the general. I wrote the general before noon, but the express carrier will stay till to-morrow.

Your letter of the 27th is received, giving first news of our boats entering Yazoo River. I suppose things would not, could not, come together according to plans made on such a varying sliding scale. General Sherman's letters disclose (as they should not) his forces, Grant's and all their movements, and it is easy to see there is not one chance in five these moves can meet. Still, if Sherman gets ahead of the rebel movements, he may find a small force only at Vicksburg and take it easily.

When Commodore Davis and myself went up to Cairo, and proposed the move, Memphis had a small garrison and was not near as strong as now. I have great confidence in our troops, but wish we had more cool and sagacious arrangements for the great river move.

The general's whole line seems to have been left in a crazy kind of style, and General Davies seems to have been quite possessed. I have been doing all in my power to save the fragments, and hope things are now about safe.

All the officers who, like, myself, have served on the Arkansas concur with me in saying that river will only do for a dash. If a fleet goes up it there is no safety; it is more than likely to be caught by a fall that leaves the boats high and dry.

The weather continues rainy, and the river is in fine condition. If the rain continues it will help us. Helena is the only dry spot when the river is high, and if these rains continue, as I said in a former letter, we may be inundated at Napoleon before sixty days. However bad the roads may be, we must use them in any move west, for we cannot get boats enough to carry all the equipment of a proper force up those shallow or small rivers. Swamps will have to be bridged and difficulties overcome, let us go either way.


Page 10 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV

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