Steele, unlike Banks, was having some success in Arkansas. Gen. Kimball here informs him that Halleck has added Fort Smith to his command. He seems to be the de facto commander of the west side of the Mississippi at this point. Note the reference to the Fort Pillow massacre in Kimball’s dispatch.
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., April 25, 1864.
Major General F. STEELE,
Commanding Department of Arkansas:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that, Major-General Blunt continuing to interfere with affairs in this department, and so much so as to endanger the safety of the troops in the District of the Frontier, I forwarded a dispatch to Major-General Halleck, complaining of Blunt’s conduct, &c., and have received an answer from Colonel E. D. Townsend, a copy of which is herewith transmitted.* You will see by it that all of the Fort Smith command is attached to your department, and Major-General Blunt ordered away.
The Ninth Kansas has not as yet reported. I don’t know where they are; when last heard from they were at Fort Scott, Kans. As soon as it can be ascertained where they are, they will be ordered here in compliance with your instructions.
The Third Wisconsin are here, and are remustered as veterans. They will go home in a day or so. I wish to send the prisoners of war now confined here to the North. There are over 500 now on hand. We have had much trouble in getting horses and mules to move trains and batteries; all has been done that could be to get the trains organized. Colonel Andrews returned with his command last night; he had no battle. The rebels fled across Cache River, and into swamps. Andrews brought in several prisoners, one colonel, and several other officers, among them a bearer of dispatches from General Price. I send you the dispatches. Captain Hand, of Fourth Arkansas, to-day arrested, as he says, a spy, and had him shot. The shooting was done inside the lines, and in sight of camp, and being a very great outrage, I have the captain and men arrested and placed in confinement.
Colonel Livingston, commanding District of Northeastern Arkansas, has been compelled to move his command to Jacksonport, that he may be the better enabled to subsist men and horses, as it is impossible to get forage at Batesville, and very uncertain as to subsistence. I approve the move. He was attacked at Jacksonport by McRae’s force on the 22nd, but repulsed him, killing several, among whom was Colonel Love, of Freeman’s command. Our loss was 2 wounded.
The forces at posts above maintain their position; but guerrillas are numerous and give them a great deal of trouble. It is almost impossible to keep the telegraph communication up between Clarksville and Fort Smith. It has been down for some time, though I now have a force at work, and hope to soon have the communication perfect.
Major-General Hurlbut has been relieved of the command of the Sixteenth Army Corps. General Wahsburn is assigned to the command. The massacre of our troops at Fort Pillow is one of the most damnable outrages on record. Officers and men murdered after surrender; negroes buried alive, and officers burned. The Tenth Illinois arrived last night, without arms and without horses. I have deemed it improper to send them forward on this account. We have now exhausted every team and wagon to supply you; you will either have to send them back, or we must get a new supply from the North, or we cannot send you another train.
The dispatches I send you from General Price will give you comfort. “Pap” thinks you will be used up. I fear General Banks has gained but a barren victory. I hope, general, that success may continue to attend you; that you may be completely victorious over the enemy in every engagement, and that your life and health may be spared. Compliments to Generals Thayer and Rice. God bless you all.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,