attack the enemy near New Madrid or Cape Girardeau
, and, if practicable, march on St. Louis
, and thus withdraw the forces threatening that part of Arkansas
A heavy blow had been struck the Federals
; Van Dorn
proposed to seek another field before they recovered.
If he gave battle near New Madrid, he would relieve Beauregard
, in command at Corinth
If that were not advisable, he would march boldly and rapidly toward St. Louis
Gov. Isham G. Harris
had written Van Dorn
, March 7th, from Clarksville, Tenn.
, that General Beauregard
desired Van Dorn
to join his forces with those of Beauregard
on the Mississippi river
, if possible.
To this General Van Dorn
replied, March 16th, that he would unite all his troops at Pocahontas
, about the 7th of April, and would have about 20,000, maybe more; that the enemy in Arkansas
had fallen back to Springfield
On the 17th of March he sent a message to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston
that by the 22d he would get off, and reach Pocahontas
on April 7th with 15,000 men. He received a letter from Gen. R. E. Lee
, dated March 19th, informing him that all the troops called from Arkansas
, and by Hebert
from the coast, were ordered to him.
March 19th, General Van Dorn
ordered Col. T. J. Churchill
, with his brigade, and Gates
' battalion of cavalry, to make an expedition against Springfield, Mo.
, and endeavor to capture and destroy the stores of the enemy there.
On the same day the First division, army of the West, under command of Major-General Price
, was ordered to be ready to march on the 25th inst. General Pike
was continued in command of the troops in the Indian Territory
, and Woodruff
's battery, reorganized at Little Rock
, was ordered to report to him at Van Buren
Maj. W. L. Cabell
, at Pocahontas
, was advised, as chief-quartermaster, on the 25th of March, that it had been decided to make Des Arc, Ark.
, the point of rendezvous