Washington, D.C., November 25, 1863.

SIR: In compliance with your orders, I submit the following summary of military operations since my last annual report:

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The withdrawal to Missouri of a large part of our forces in Arkansas, as stated in my last annual report, left the frontier of the former exposed to raids, of which the rebels were prompt to take advantage. Marmaduke, with the advance of Hindman's rebel army, moved forward with the purpose of entering the southwest of Missouri. Before the enemy could concentrate his forces for battle, Brigadier-General Blunt, by forced marches, encountered him at Cane Hill, in the Boston Mountains. A running fight took place on the 28th of November, 1862, in which the enemy was defeated with a heavy loss. Our casualties were 4 killed and 36 wounded.

Four days after the combat of Cane Hill, it was ascertained, from reliable information, that Hindman's army had crossed the Arkansas River, and formed a junction with Marmaduke at Lee's Creek, 15 miles north of Van Buren, to which point the latter had retreated after the action of the 28th of November.

The united rebel force was believed to be very much greater than our own, of which two divisions were more than 100 miles in the rear Immediately upon learning General Blunt's danger from an overwhelming attack of the enemy, General Herron, by forced marches (110 miles in three days), arrived at Fayetteville, Ark., early on the morning of the 7th of December. Soon after, we encountered the enemy in force at Prairie Grove, while attempting a flank movement to get between Blunt and the approaching succor, designing to crush both in succession. This skillfully devised project was fortunately frustrated by the valor and endurance of Herron's divisions, which stoutly held their ground till about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when Blunt's forces arrived upon the field, and the engagement became general along the entire line, and continued to be fiercely contested until dark. During the night the enemy retreated across the Boston Mountains. Although the rebels suffered much more severely than ourselves, we purchased the victory with the loss of 167 killed, 798 wounded, and 183 missing, making a total loss of 1,148, of which 953 were of Herron's divisions.

Early in January, 1863, a rebel force, estimated at from 4,000 to 6,000, under Marmaduke, moved upon Lawrence Mills, and proceeded, by way of Ozark, to the attack of Springfield, Mo., to which place our small force, consisting chiefly of militia, convalescents, and citizens, was compelled to fall back. This miscellaneous garrison, of only about 1,000 men, obstinately defended the place most of the day of the 8th of January, with the loss of 14 killed, 145 wounded, and 5 missing--in all, 164. Under cover of the night the enemy withdrew, and our force was too feeble to make a vigorous pursuit. Another skirmish took place at Hartville on the 11th, in which our loss was 7 killed and 64 wounded. We captured 27 prisoners.

The season was now so far advanced and the roads so impassable that further operations could not be carried on by-either party.

On the 15th of July, Major-General Blunt crossed the Arkansas River, near Honey Springs, Ind. T., and on the 16th [17th] attacked a superior force of rebels under General Cooper, which he completely routed, the enemy leaving their killed and wounded on the field. Our loss was 17 killed and 60 wounded, while that of the enemy was 150 killed (buried by our men), 400 wounded, and 77 prisoners taken, besides 1 piece of artillery, 200 stand of arms, and 15 wagons.

After several skirmishes with the enemy, General Blunt descended the Arkansas River, and, on the 1st of September, occupied Fort Smith, Ark.

The main body of our troops in the Department of the Missouri had, in the early part of the season, been sent to re-enforce General Grant before Vicksburg. Taking advantage of this reduction of force, the enemy moved against Helena, and attacked that place on the 4th of July. After a severe engagement, he was defeated by Major-General Prentiss, with a heavy loss in killed and wounded and 1,100 prisoners. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing was only about 250.

As soon as Vicksburg had capitulated, Major-General Steele was sent with a force to Helena, with instructions to form a junction with Brigadier-General Davidson, who was moving south from Missouri, by Crowley's Ridge, and drive the enemy south of Arkansas River. This junction being effected, General Steele established his depot and hospitals at Devall's Bluff, and on the 1st of August advanced against the enemy, who fell back toward Little Rock. After several successful skirmishes he reached the Arkansas River, and threw a part of his force upon the south side to threaten the enemy's communications with Arkadelphia and take his defenses in reverse. The rebels, on seeing this movement, destroyed what property they could, and, after a slight resistance, fled in disorder, pursued by our cavalry; and on the 10th of September our troops took possession of the capital of Arkansas. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing did not exceed 100. We captured 1,000 prisoners, and such public property as the rebels had not time to destroy. After the capture of Little Rock, and while our cavalry were driving the main force of the rebels south, the enemy attempted to recapture Pine Bluff, but was repulsed with heavy loss. On the 28th of October our troops occupied Arkadelphia, the enemy retreating to Red River.

A large part of the military force in the Department of the Missouri has been employed during the past year in repelling raids and in repressing the guerrilla bands of robbers and murderers who have come within our lines or been organized in the country. Most of these bands are not authorized belligerents under the laws of war, but simply outlaws from civilized society. It is exceedingly difficult to eradicate these bunds, inasmuch as the inhabitants of the country, sometimes from disloyalty and sometimes from fear, afford them subsistence and concealment. They usually hide themselves in the woods, and, being well mounted, move rapidly from one point to another, supplying themselves by the way with provisions and fresh horses. They rob and murder wherever they go. In the recent raid of one of these bands into Kansas, they burned the city of Lawrence and murdered the inhabitants without regard to age or sex, committing atrocities more inhuman than those of Indian savages.

These are the terrible results of a border contest, incited at first for political purposes, and since increased in animosity by the civil war in which we are engaged, till all sense of humanity seems to have been lost in the desire to avenge with blood real or fancied grievances. This extraordinary condition of affairs on that frontier seems to call for the application of a prompt and severe remedy.

It has been proposed to depopulate the frontier counties of Missouri, and to lay waste the country on the border so as to prevent its furnishing any shelter or subsistence to these bands of murderers. Such measures are within the recognized laws of war; they were adopted by Wellington in Portugal, and by the Russian armies in the campaign of 1812; but they should be adopted only in case of overruling necessity. The execution of General Schofield's order on this subject has been suspended, and it is hoped that it will not be necessary hereafter to renew it. 


As soon as the season was sufficiently advanced for a campaign against the Indians, General Pope sent a column, under Brigadier-General Sibley, up the Mississippi River to near our northern boundary, and thence across the country to the Missouri; and another of cavalry, under Brigadier-General Sully, from Sioux City up the latter river to cut off the retreat of the hostile Indians whom General Sibley might drive before him from Minnesota and Eastern Dakota. Unfortunately these movements were not well timed, and no junction was effected. A portion of the savages driven north took refuge within British territory, where our troops were not permitted to follow them. Some fled westward, and were overtaken by General Sibley near Missouri Coteau, where he on-countered a force of Minnesota and Dakota warriors, estimated at from 2,200 to 2,500. In the engagements which followed at Big Mound and Dead Buffalo Lake, the Indians were completely routed, with a heavy loss in killed and wounded, and in the destruction of their provisions and means of transportation. Our loss was 5 killed and 4 wounded. The savages who escaped crossed to the west side of the Mississippi, and General Sibley reached that river, about 40 miles below Fort Clarke, on the 29th of July, having marched a distance of some 600 miles from Saint Paul.

On the 3d of September, General Sully encountered and defeated, at White Stone Hill, about 130 miles above the Little Cheyenne, a body of Indians, a part of whom had previously been engaged against Sibley's column. The savages were defeated with a heavy loss in killed and wounded and 156 prisoners. Our loss was 20 killed and 38 wounded.

With these operations the present Indian campaign was terminated. Recent hostilities in Idaho may render it necessary to send a military expedition into that Territory early in the spring.

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All of which is respectfully submitted.



 Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

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