HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Smith, Ark., March 8, 1865.
Maj. John Levering, Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of Arkansas.
There are several thousand families within the limits of this command who are related to and dependent on the Arkansas soldiers in our service. These people have nearly all been robbed of everything they had by the troops of this command, and are now left destitute and compelled to leave their homes to avoid starvation. They cannot be sent away, as they are dependent on their husbands and sons in the Arkansas regiments belonging to this command. Many of them are preparing to cultivate the abandoned plantations in the vicinity of this place and Van Buren. Colonel Stephenson has 200 families at Clarksville, which he wants to colonize on the north side of the river near Van Buren. Colonel Harrison has established colonies at Fayetteville, Cane Hill, Huntsville, Bentonville, at each of which places a company of the First Arkansas Cavalry is stationed, and the loyal people are preparing to cultivate the land in the vicinity of these posts. To protect these people and the telegraph and our mail communication with Saint Louis the First Arkansas Cavalry will have to remain at Fayetteville. We are now issuing rations to a large number at this place who will be able to purchase as soon as the troops here are paid. I am issuing to none but the families of soldiers in our service. I understand it to be the desire of the general commanding that all such persons be kept here and encouraged to go to work. Many good loyal people have been shamefully treated by our army. The country is filled with irregular receipts for forage, horses, cattle, and other property which cannot be settled, but in most instances everything has been taken and no receipts given, the people turned out to starve, and their effects loaded into trains and sent to Kansas. With so much evidence before me I feel it to be my duty to afford these people all the assistance and protection I can possibly give them. They are willing and anxious to work. The number of persons who will want to purchase supplies from the commissary will exceed 2,000.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,