Steele tries one more avenue to try to get out of sending all of his forces to Shreveport. This time, he goes over Sherman’s head to Halleck.
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., March 12, 1864-3 p.m.
(Received 12.30 a.m., 13th.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General Banks, with 17,000 and 10,000 of Sherman’s will be at Alexandria on the 17th instant. This is more than an equal for everything Kirby Smith can bring against them. Smith will run. By holding the line of the Arkansas secure I can soon free this State of armed rebels. Sherman insists upon my moving upon Shreveport to co-operate with the above-mentioned force with all my effective force. I have prepared to do so, against my own judgment and that of the best-informed people here. The roads are most if not quite impracticable; the country is destitute of provision on the route we should be obliged to take. I made proposition to General Banks to threaten the enemy’s flank and rear with all my cavalry and to make a feint with infantry on the Washington road.
I yielded to Sherman and Banks, so far as this plan is concerned. Banks wished me to move by Monroe to Red River; Sherman wants me to go by Camden and Overton to Shreveport. The latter is impracticable and the former plan would expose the line of the Arkansas and Missouri to cavalry raids. Holmes has a large mounted force. I agreed to move by Arkadelphia or Hot Springs and Washington to Shreveport . I can move with about 7,000, including the Frontier. Our scouting parties frequently have skirmishers with detached parties all over the State, and if they should form in my rear in considerable force I should be obliged to fall back to save my depots, &c.
Please give me your opinion immediately, as I shall march to-morrow or next day. Curtis and Blunt are trying to have the frontier counties of Arkansas transferred to the Department of Kansas. The people of Arkansas protest against it.