April 21, 1864, Fort
Gibson, C. N.
Colonel Wm. A. Phillips to Major General S. R. Curtis
FORT GIBSON, C. N., April 21, 1864.
SIR: General Orders, No. 14, was received yesterday, and on same day the order relieving General Blunt and placing us in Department of Arkansas. I communicate matters that may concern your command. I hope there has been no stoppage of the supply train; if there has we shall starve.
The day before yesterday a scout of the enemy from the Choctaw Nation swung in on my left and crossed the river, 15 miles southeast, 6 or 7 miles from Mackey's Lick. I sent out one party of infantry, under Capt. White Catcher, to watch the fords, and sent two parties, one under my adjutant, Gallaher, and one under Captain Anderson, in pursuit. The stock was ponies borrowed from the women, or pressed--everything that could be got. Adjutant Gallaher, after a 20-mile chase, caught up with one party of rebels and chased them 4 or 5 miles, scattering them and killing a few of them. Captain Anderson found the other party, and after a running fight of 4 miles drove them over the river. One rebel killed in the river; do not know what others were hit.
Yesterday morning a large scout crossed the Arkansas, 25 miles from here, driving in my pickets stationed there. They were all white men but 2, well mounted and equipped. I believe it to be Quantrill; he murdered Jim McKellop, a prominent half-breed Creek, and 4 others at Chosky. I dispatched all the forces I could spare, but as all my cavalry were taken away I am nearly helpless. Two-thirds of the men I sent are infantry. The mounted men that Captain Phillips takes with him are merely on ponies, pressed or borrowed, and his whole force, infantry and mounted men, scarcely equal to the enemy. The rebel force I refer to is not to exceed 200 men, and I believe less, but it is at very least upward of 100 men, all in excellent condition and consequently formidable.
I had sent five days ago Captain Kaufman with an effective force (infantry) and one howitzer. He was to bring the small amount of corn still left, and make a reconnaissance in force and get forage. I have notified him, &c.; started the day after Captain Anderson got back from We-Wo-Ka. Anderson's force went 80 miles south and brought sixteen loads of corn, most of which had to be used as bread. It was thought that as much more could be had. At the time Anderson left Canadian the enemy were ascertained to be in no force this side of Boggy Depot or Washita. These forces of rebels came in from the southeast from the Choctaw Nation; the force that crossed on my left crossed 18 miles below, the white force (Quantrill) 25 miles above. The latter force passed my front, 20 miles distant, in the night, 20 miles in Kaufman's rear, and crossed 25 miles up the river. They avoided my outpost, but drove the picket after they crossed the river. I apprehend they meditate a raid on Kansas; either is that or these are feints to cover some movements below. I apprised the parties below.
I have ordered my commands who are following up the Arkansas River to notify me the instant they cross the river south or strike north. I shall send a telegram to you via Fort Smith. I have sent two companies of infantry up Grand River to meet the train, for fear it should have a small escort. As I have almost everything out I have had temporarily to suspend work on the fortification; taking away my cavalry and principal part of the Third has weakened me, and suffer chiefly for want of horses. I have heard nothing of the train. As it is too early for grass the enemy's movements mean something more than mere bushwhacking. As I have sent everything after the enemy I am barely able to hold on to my position, but am not afraid of any attack they may make on the works here.
I am, sir, very respectfully, yours, truly,
WM. A. PHILLIPS,
Maj. Gen. S. R. CURTIS,
Commanding Department of Kansas.
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