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13. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on shortage of Union troops in Missouri


13. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on shortage of Union troops in Missouri


Letter from General Samuel R. Curtis to Abraham Lincoln expressing opinion that recent military orders are creating a shortage of troops in northern and eastern Missouri, including the vicinity of Rolla, a major railhead. Curtis's letter was written shortly after he had taken command of troops near St. Louis. A Confederate force had taken control of Lexington, in western Missouri, in mid-September, leading to a shift of Union forces within the state. October 21, 1861. Copy.




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State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

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Head-Quarters Camp of Instruction, Benton Barracks (near St. Louis, Mo.,) October 20[,] 1861 His [Excellen]cy[,] Abraham Lincoln[,] President In further response to your letter concerning affairs in this Department I feel it my duty to present that orders from the Commanding General are draining the Northern and Eastern portions of this state, and pressing them west, so out of the way, I fear they will be lost to actual necessities that grow out of the weakness of this section. Every cavalier is removed from Rolla when mounted scouts are of the greatest necessity. All the armed cavalry is removed from here and all the infantry that is properly arrived also. Regiments are drawn from the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad and sent forward to augment the western column which was fled from by the rebels whom it had not a tithe of its present strength. I regret also to see the forces being much divided in small and great columns scattering and consuming the momentum they should carry with them, and offering occasion for more rebel victories such as the past has painfully witnessed. Seven companies (Infantry and Cavalry) are 90 miles south of Rolla with no support. A so called Brig. General Harding is gathering troops to lead a similar expedition. At the same time there is a force of irregular rascals under Thompson forty or fifty miles below me who could be driven to Arkansas or caught in the swamp of New Madrid, if I could arm and move the cavalry now here under special orders to go west just as fast as squadrons can be armed. I am sorry to trouble your Excellency about matters which ought to be otherwise disposed of but the anxiety expressed in your letter induces me to keep you advised.