Jefferson Davis to E. Kirby Smith
Richmond Va. Novr. 19th. 1863
I have the honor to acknowledge yours of Sept. 28th. and have noted
your remarks on the condition of your Dept. and its necessities. The
Treasury Dept. long since sent out agents with authority and the
requisite machinery to effect the ends which you desire in that regard.
They were sent by sea and encountered delay; but it is hoped they have
since arrived and will relieve you of the embarrassments mentioned in
regard to finance operations.
I have directed a supply of arms, say 25,000, to be sent to you
across the Missi. & have telegraphed to Genl. Johnston to correspond
with you so as to secure your cooperation in giving protection &
transportation to the arms after they reach the West side of the river.
You have been heretofore advised of the arrangements made to send you
arms by way of the Rio. Grande & the disappointments which have been
encountered. I rely equally upon your vigilance to discover the
purposes of the enemy & upon your energy to counteract them to the
full extent of your means.
The force of the enemy as estimated by scouts is generally
exaggerated. I hope it has been so in this case & if it should be
possible to restore confidence among our own people, I trust that
desertions will cease and that recruits will flock to your standard.
The evacuation of the valley of the Arkansas nodoubt produced, as
usual in such cases, desertions from the troops raised in that quarter.
If the chances of war should enable you to reoccupy it those men would
doubtless return to you. But the reoccupation has a higher importance
than this, -- that is the only region where you can obtain the requisite
supplies to support an army for the defence of Arkansas or for an
advance into Missouri. So long as you have no boats to navigate the
Arkansas & White rivers those streams may be rendered dangerous to
the enemy by the use of submarine torpedoes, & when those rivers are
high it would not be practicable for the enemy to transport supplies by
land in sufficient quantity to feed an army in Arkansas or S. Western
Missouri. There is therefore a double advantage to be derived from
holding the valley of the Arkansas and securing its supplies for the use
of your army.
I have been pained to hear of disagreement between Generals
[Theophilus H.] Holmes and [Sterling] Price. Without the requisite
information to enable me to judge which is the more to blame, the more
important consideration may be concluded without such proof that discord
between the two highest officers of an army must materially impair its
efficiency & otherwise work evil to the public service.
Under these circumstances, it has occurred to me that Genl. Price
might be more available in the direction of Kansas and Western Missouri.
I am not sufficiently advised as to the state of things there and the
fitness of the senior officer to command, to judge of the propriety of
the change which would be effected by sending Genl. Price to that
quarter; and, therefore, only design to bring the matter to your
The general truth that power is increased by the concentration of an
army is under our peculiar circumstances subject to modification. The
evacuation of any portion of territory involves not only the loss of
supplies but in eve[ry] instance has been attended by a greater or less
loss of troops, & a General, therefore, has in each case a complex
problem to solve. With high esteem & cordial good wishes I am very
respectfully & truly yours
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 10, pp. 80-83. Transcribed from a signed copy in the National Archives, RG109, Documents in the Official Records, Volume 22, part 2, pp. 1071-72.