July 23, 1863

July 23, 2013

One hundred fifty years ago, on July 23, 1863, Sterling Price foresees tough times ahead for Arkansas Confederates: HEADQUARTERS PRICE’S DIVISION, Des Arc, Ark., July 23, 1863. Lieut. Gen. E. KIRBY SMITH, Shreveport: GENERAL: YOU will probably have received a communication addressed to me by Dr. Pearson, and by me forwarded to you this day, through district headquarters, with my indorsement upon it. That communication was intended to advise me that our friends in Saint Louis (from which city Dr. Pearson is just returning) believe that the enemy are about to send a force of 60,000 men into this State. The writer, who is known to me as a very intelligent and trustworthy gentleman, states, in confirmation of this report, that twelve regiments had already left Saint Louis for Rolla, in Southwestern Missouri, and six regiments for Helena, in this State. This last statement has been fully verified by reports from Helena. It has also been manifest, for three weeks past, that the enemy were concentrating near Ironton, in Missouri, a heavy force of cavalry and artillery (from 6,000 to 10,000 men), well equipped and supplied with pontoon teams, &c., and plainly intended to operate in this direction, and the latest intelligence shows that this force, the advance of which is even now within this State, is but the advance of a heavy force of infantry. Being myself fully convinced by these and other facts that the enemy is about to advance against us (probably in three columns; one army from Northwestern Arkansas, another down the White River Valley, and the third from the Mississippi) in numbers which we cannot even hope to withstand in the present scattered condition of the troops in this district and department, and believing also that our own forces cannot be concentrated north of the Arkansas either in sufficient numbers or in time to resist the enemy’s advance without exposing ourselves to capture or annihilation, or without, at least, sacrificing uselessly thousands of men, when we have not a man to spare, I believe it to be my duty to urge you, very respectfully, but most earnestly, to be pleased to order all troops within this State, at least, to be concentrated upon some line of defense at least as far south as the Arkansas River. I send a copy of this communication to Lieutenant-General Holmes. I am, general, with the greatest respect, your friend and obedient servant, STERLING PRICE, Major-General.

Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission

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