May 11, 1864, Fort
Major General S. R. Curtis to Brigadier General Thomas J. McKean
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, May 11, 1864.
Brig. Gen. THOMAS J. McKEAN,
Commanding District of South Kansas:
DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 8th instant is just received, and I have fully indorsed and sent it to General Rosecrans, urging its accomplishment. He telegraphs me:
Brown is advised and alive to the business of taking care of all rebels who come to his district.
You see by this he is confident. He also says:
We expect to disperse them, destroy them.
Still we hear of General Brown's fuss with negroes, and nothing of his catching rebels who we know have marched deliberately up through his district. The trouble is, every rebel sympathizer in Missouri tries to prevent a cordial, united effort, on the ground that our troops are all Kansas jayhawkers, and "keep your own side" is evidently the general feeling of commanders on your border, with some honorable exceptions. Then there is a mean indifference on the part of copperhead officers as to what is the consequence to exterior commands if they can coax rebels to be quiet in Missouri.
The best way is to encourage the militia by every means in our power to organize and take position with us. For this purpose I have called on the Governor and the Secretary of War to have them mobilized, armed, and equipped, and turned out as far as necessary, just as they are in Missouri, Illinois, and other Western States. If we can get the militia so arranged we can strike the rebels somewhere, and if you hear of them in force I hope you will strike anywhere in your vicinity, without regard to department lines, which were certainly never made to screen rebels. Especially if Quantrill can be spied out, he should be. Great efforts should be made for this purpose, and if he can be found let him be slaughtered, if we have to violate all the department boundaries this side of hell itself. I am not the man to have the murderer of my son prowling about my lines with impunity, and hope to God, general, you will exert all your ingenuity to discover his hiding place and crush the villain and outlaw.
I can get no accession to my force till the terrible battles now pending are over. That is obvious. I expect two companies will arrive at Riley in a day or two. I can then send a company to Larned. Indeed, I have already ordered Captain Dunlap's company to move, leaving employés and recruits to take care of Riley. When the companies from Nebraska arrive I will send one or both to your district.
Have the employés at Fort Scott enrolled, and have them drill every Saturday afternoon. I have some things published on purpose to keep the militia sensible of pending danger. It is the only way to have them ready to help, and without them we could not mass a regiment, as I have informed the honorable the Secretary of War. This kind of watchful care and attention on our part is appreciated by friends and foes, and helps to guard the people of Kansas against the terrible surprises and disasters that have heretofore destroyed her towns and crimsoned her prairies.
You see, therefore, I have already been anticipating your ideas in the main by pressing the use of the militia and pressing the dangers and gathering scoundrels on the attention of General Rosecrans. When I first came here I received cordial letters from Brown, while I answered in the same spirit, urging him to heartily co-operate with you, but since the rebels commenced moving into his district, and for some time past, I never get a word from him, and not much from General Rosecrans. I fear the negro occupies the attention of the former, and the great M. V. fair the attention of the latter. Mean time, in all courtesy and propriety, let us do our utmost, and, courtesy or not, crush rebel nests before the vipers hatch. The news seems favorable from the East, but this is a great day of trial and I tremble for my country.
Truly, your friend and comrade,
S. R. CURTIS,
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