June 16, 1864, Fort
Major General S. R. Curtis to Brigadier General C. B. Fisk
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, June 16, 1864.
Brig. Gen. C. B. FISK,
Saint Joseph, Mo.:
DEAR GENERAL : I get more news of rebels near the line between Platte and Clay Counties. A wealthy Missourian came over to-day, and seemed very confident that some 1,500 were distributed near the lines of Platte and Clay, not far east of Ridgeley. Major Hunt thinks there are not over 300. I do not feel at liberty to name the Missourian, but he is so situated as to have better means of knowing than any man near here. Indeed, I will tell you; it is Mr. Washburn, the owner, I believe, of the ferry. He has been a little shaky and gets into rebel news. You must not expose his name. This afternoon General Davies got what he considered reliable news of a rebel camp only a few miles below Leavenworth. I allowed him to send over a force under Major Hunt, who will try to surround the bushwhackers before day to-morrow.
We must take all these reports with many grains of allowance, but there must be some fire where there is so much smoke. You will also see by the papers taken by Captain Fitzgerald the plain earmarks of rebels. The papers show a knowledge of our troops, as located, all the way down from Missouri River, below the Arkansas; giving their locations and probable numbers very correctly. The papers also show the complicity of men and women, who should be immediately arrested. A bold dash and extensive arrests in the regions that have begun to collect will save you a vast amount of trouble. I hope you will be able to shift troops. I think there is a kind of tacit agreement among some of the bushwhackers and Paw Paws to let each other alone; they evidently regard the differences between them not very formidable, as they evidently inhabit the same neighborhood. Mr. Washburn thinks Quantrill is with them near Ridgeley.
I telegraphed General Rosecrans to-day in regard to this movement of rebels north of the Missouri, and especially called his attention to their places of crossing not far from Lexington, and also at Blue Mills. I am considerably annoyed by the efforts of some to press me into extensive operations on your side. It is far better the work should be done by your own troops, many, probably most, of whom are just as loyal as our Kansas troops. We must not do injustice to the true, because false men will associate with them; but a fresh regiment from other locations, or new and extensive organizations of home guards, must be placed in the turbulent sections where the bushwhackers now seem to be collecting.
Quick and terrible vengeance should be visited on some of the wealthy villains that foster or favor these murderous organizations. But let me know whatever comes up. I will keep you posted as well as I can, and when necessary do all I can to aid you.
I write this while an orderly is hunting after Captain Fitzgerald. His family is in Ridgeley, and, he is extremely anxious to get them out. He did not dare to come away himself till Major Hunt went to Ridgeley and relieved him. He dare not go back without a force. For the next six months we must be much troubled by these villains, but constant movement and firm vengeance displayed by our forces will prevent much mischief. Moving troops about is especially important, and night movements are most desirable. I hope you will keep your promise to come and visit us. Mr. Sturgeon and his railroad committee called to see me to-day. He is very sanguine of success in his ideas of the Missouri Valley road. My folks are all very well. Sam is not returned from Baltimore.
Truly, your friend and fellow-soldier,
S. R. CURTIS,
visits since 02/04/2004
page revised 05/25/2006