Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Headquarters District of Kansas,

Headquarters District of Kansas,
Fort Leavenworth, Kans., April 17, 1863.
Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis,
Commanding Department of the Missouri:

GENERAL: Recent telegraphic dispatches from Colonel Phillips (a
synopsis of which was telegraphed you by my adjutant on yesterday
during my absence at Kansas City) report that he has had two
skirmishes with the enemy this side of the Arkansas River, completely
routing them, killing their leader and a number of men, and driving
them all across the river. Colonel Phillips is now occupying Fort
Gibson with a portion of his command. The refugee Cherokees have
arrived at their homes, and are putting in their crops. They are in
fine spirits, and much pleased at the prospect of again occupying
their country. Rebel forces on the south side of the river are
guarding all the fords to prevent Union citizens from Southwestern
Arkansas and Texas, as also well-disposed Choctaws and Creeks, from
crossing over to join our forces. I have directed Colonel Phillips
not to attempt to hold any position on the south side of the river,
and to keep his forces within supporting distance, to prevent being
attacked in detail by the enemy in force. It is quite evident that
the rebels intend to make an effort to cross the river, and advance
north through the Indian country. In my opinion their purpose is not
to move through Missouri, but upon Kansas. This opinion is confirmed
by information I obtain through the Knights of the Golden Circle. I
have a man who joined some time since in Missouri for certain
purposes. He has been for some time with Todd's band of guerrillas
in Jackson County, and is well posted in the working of the order,
and the purposes for which they are organized. I expect to make a
descent upon one of their lodges a few nights hence, and, if
successful in taking them in, I think I shall hang all I catch.
There are about 800 of them in Kansas and 10,000 in the State of
Missouri. They are all sworn to support the Southern Confederacy,
and are secretly securing arms, and are confident that Price will
succeed in invading Kansas and Missouri. Recruiting officers from
Price's army are constantly arriving, and a regular correspondence by
rebel mail is carried on between here and the rebel army. The plan
of Price, as revealed by these Knights of the Golden Circle, is to
make a feint with a small force in the direction of Springfield or
Rolla, while with his main force he will move up the Arkansas, and
through the Indian country upon Kansas, while the troops for the
protection of this line are diverted for the protection of Rolla.
Thus, in addition to being the most desirable plan for them - for
there is no State they would so much like to devastate as this - it
is the most feasible plan; for, leaving Fort Smith with ten days'
supplies of rations, they could reach Fort Scott through a country
well provided with grazing, provided there was no force to oppose
them; whereas they cannot move a large army up through Arkansas, for
want of grass. Besides, there is nothing to attract them in
Missouri, or supplies to sustain them, except the Government stores
at the posts, which could be easily destroyed by us if necessary,
while Kansas would furnish abundance of supplies after reaching her
south border. We should not suffer ourselves to be deceived in
regard to their anticipated movements. Whatever I may be able to
learn through the 'order' I will keep you posted in. The telegraph
should not be used in making mention of the Knights of the Golden
Circle. General Ewing has received orders from General Herron to
join his command with the Kansas troops now in this district. I
shall retain them in my district unless I receive orders from you to
the contrary, as I believe that all of them and many more will be
needed here before long.

I have the honor to be, general, respectfully, your obediant servant,
Major-General, Commanding.