May 6, 1864, Fort
Brigadier General L. C. Hunt to Lieutenant Colonel C. B. Comstock
FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANS., May 6, 1864.
Lieut. Col. C. B. COMSTOCK,
A. D. C. and A. A. A. G., Hdqrs. Army in the Field, Va.:
COLONEL: Herewith I have the honor to inclose the following papers: A, statement of the distribution of troops in the District of North Missouri ; B, my letter to Major-General Curtis; C, reply of Major-General Curtis ; D, tri-monthly report of this department.
I have no report to make of the troops in the Northern District of Missouri other than that, in my judgment, there is little need of them. The quantity of troops in the district is moderate compared with the other districts of that department. It will be perceived from the statement of Major-General Curtis, commanding department, that he not only judges himself unable to spare troops from the department, but desires a further force of 3,000 men, to be stationed in Southern Kansas, besides a chain of posts along the Arkansas as a protection from possible Texas raids.
Considering the great distance such raiding parties would be obliged to pass over, and the heavy Union force upon their flank in Arkansas and Missouri, and the very considerable force that might be concentrated at short notice to meet them from the different posts of Kansas and Missouri, I think it quite improbable that any such raid will be made, and the contingency is not such as in my opinion would justify the heavy expense of maintaining a line of posts so difficult to be supplied. And even if the posts were established it does not follow that they would be a guarantee against such raids. All the garrisons of Missouri and Kansas could not prevent the raid of Shelby nor the sack of Lawrence by Quantrill. With regard to the method of supplying Forts Gibson and Smith and their dependencies, I am still of the opinion that the Arkansas River, if made use of at high water and kept clear of guerrillas, would be the readiest and least expensive route. But of the two land routes, that by Rolla and Springfield and that by Fort Scott, I think the latter preferable, for the very substantial reasons assigned by General Curtis, viz:
First, you have the old military road, smooth and level, instead of the rough, mountainous road through Missouri and Arkansas; second, the Kansas route is through prairies, where you are less liable to bushwhackers than you are through the timber land of Missouri and Arkansas; third, the greatest advantage the Kansas route has is the grass for forage, abounding everywhere and convenient for stock summer and winter, instead of the country supplies that have now been exhausted on the Missouri route and are not likely to be reproduced in such quantities as to be depended upon.
The above reasons I know to be good and valid. It is for the Government to decide whether it is worth while to "preserve and support" the three lines of communication on account of the incidental encouragement thereby afforded to the "occupation and cultivation of the country." I have this day reviewed and inspected the troops at this post, consisting of one company Eleventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, four companies Sixteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, one company Veteran Reserves, and one light battery, Fourth Kansas. The company of the Eleventh is well armed, well mounted, well drilled. The companies of the Sixteenth require horses. The light battery is newly organized.
The hospital, quartermaster's, and commissary depots were in fine order. Very extensive improvements, alterations, and repairs are going on, and a fine new guard-house of stone being built. The expenditures involved seemed to me very considerable for such a time as the present. I have not yet been furnished with returns of means of transportation by chief quartermaster, depot, or regimental quartermasters. I will procure them on my return from Fort Scott, and report any excess should it exist.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. C. HUNT,
Brigadier-General, Inspecting Officer.
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