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[69] short notice. Kansas, to the west, swarmed with the enemies of the South. Were there available forces of the Confederates sufficient to hold Missouri, should they succeed in occupying it? Yet it was strategy to make war in Missouri. In fact, the soldiers of both commands, Arkansans and Missourians, were otherwise likely to have to go to the assistance of Polk or of Johnston and Beauregard east of the Mississippi river, where the great wager of battle was being listed, not for a district, but for the entire country. A vigorous movement into Missouri might have rendered, such transfer unnecessary. Very openly it was said by some that the object of Van Dorn's assignment was to accomplish this transfer. The circumstance of his prompt establishment of headquarters at Pocahontas, in striking distance of Point Pleasant on the Mississippi, the route by which Hardee's command had been transferred, confirmed this opinion in many minds.

Halleck's strategy was to prevent this. Gen. John Pope, who had been in command of the enemy's forces in Missouri between the Missouri and Osage rivers, had sent ‘Merrill's Horse’ through Saline county, where they were bombarded with mortars loaded with mud by Jo Shelby and his men, near Waverly. They stripped farms, impressed stock from women, and captured, February 19th, several companies of Confederate recruits at Blackwater creek, near Knobnoster, under Colonels Robinson, Alexander and McGiffin, of which achievement Generals Pope and Halleck made much boast to Washington. Brig.-Gen. S. R. Curtis was, December 23d, assigned to the command of the Federal forces of the southwestern district of Missouri. On December 2d, martial law had been declared in Missouri by Mr. Lincoln, and Curtis was without restraint. The men under him burned the towns of Dayton and Columbus on January 3, 1862, and with a largely superior force proceeded southward, confronted by Price's men. Taking Springfield,

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