HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT, General SAMUEL COOPER, Asvhreveport, March 18. 1865. Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.: GENERAL: The copy of Brigadier-General Hays letter Of October 19, 1864, with inclosures, forwarded from the War Department December 2,is received. When General Hays reported to me, under orders from the Adjutant-General to collect all absentees from commands east of the Mississippi, I directed every assistance to be given him, and believed that I was carrying out the instructions of the War Depart- inent when General Orders, No. 72, department headquarters, Septem- ber 14, 1864, were published. This order affected all who came into this department subsequent to the fall of Vicksburg, an event which took place soon afLer I assumed command here. Previous to that time it was believed that but few absentees had crossed the Mississippi, and a spe- cific date was named in the general order to prevent confusion and mis- understanding respecting the men who escaped capture at Arkansas Post and those who remained in the department when General Hind- mans troops crossed the river. The latter, by instructions from the War Department to General Holmes, were allowed to remain as part of his command, and formed so large a proportion of the effective force of the Arkansas troops that their removal would have been equivalent to breaking up some of the best organizations in that district. The former were collected and organized soon after the fall of the post. in some cases nearly entire companies and regiments had escaped capture. No order had ever been published transferring them from the depart- ment. They were regnlarly on duty here when the exchange of their comrades was effected at City Point and information had been received that the Arkansas Post prisoners had left Richmond under orders to return to this department. Colonel Logan, Eleventh Arkansas Cav- alry, reported for duty at these headquarters under orders from the War Department, and was instructed to report to the commander of the District of Arkansas, and was by him directed to collect the absentees of his regiment. Colonel Griffith, commanding the Seventeenth Arkan. sas Cavalry, subsequently reported here, with instructions to aollect the absentees from his regiment. Every aid was given him to effect this object, and lie received authority by special order to recruit for the Eleventh and Seventeenth Regiments in the counties of Sebastian, Yell, and Perry, and north of the Arkansas River. When Colonel Griffith was ordered to Teport to General Hays with his regiment (the Seven- teenth), he was directed to turn over the men of the Eleventh to Colonel Logan. I cannot find any communication from General Hays claiming Colonel Logan and his command, nor can I find that any orders have been issned at these headquarters forbidding them to report to General Hays. If they belonged to the other side, they were covered by the pro- visions of Department Orders, No. 72. Certainly had the matter been referred to me by General Hays I would promptly have carried out the instructions of the War l)epartment. The men in McCords regiment claimed by Colonel Griffith appeared, on examination, to belong neither to the Eleventh nor to the Seventeenth Regiment, but had been left in this department when General Hindmans troops crossed the river, and the Secretary of War had authorized General Holmes to assign them to commands. Pnrsuant to instructions contained in General Coopers letter of May 2, 1864, such men as applied for transfers to commands in this depart- ment were assigned, awaiting the action of the War Department on their applications. Upon the arrival of General Hays this system was suspended. Less than 100 assignments were made under its operations. Most of the applications have been returned from Richmond disap- proved, and in every case the applicant was inunediately ordered to report to Brigadier-General Hays. The only exceptions to the provis- ions of General Orders, No. 72, were the few assignments above referred to, made under the authority granted in General Coopers let. ter of May 2, 1864. General Hays was so informed in a communica- tion from department headquarters dated September 29, 1864, herewith inclosed, marked A. I am surprised at the complaints made by General Hays in his letter of October 3, 1864. By reference to General Orders9 No. 72, department headquarters, it will be seen that his letter was written but a few days after the announcement of his arrival and the publication of that order, before a sufficient time had elapsed for its promulgation to the troops, and before its effects coald be known. Had General Hays made to me the complaints which he did to General Bragg, in his letters numbered 3 and 4, he would have received full explanations and entire co-operation in carrying out his instructions. I believe that General Orders, No. 72, would effect all that was contem- plated by the War Department. The inclosed copies of Department Orders, No. 11 and 54, of 1863, and No 2, 1864, * are evidences of the efforts made by me to return absentees and deserters to their com- mands east of the Mississippi. In every case all the aid possible has been promptly given to officers engaged in collecting them. I have also the honor to inclose a copy of General Orders, No. 20 (1865),t which was published on the receipt of the copy of the communication of General Hays, indorsed at the War Office November 26, 1864. I have been thus explicit in answering that communication, as I believe that if the facts had been fully understood at the War Department I would not have received the censure indorsed thereon. I request that this communication may be laid before His Excellency the President, by whom that indorsement was made. I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant, E. KIRBY SMITH, General.
GENERAL ORDERS, ~ TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT, No. 54. Shreveport, La., November 13, 1863. I. All officers in the Trans-Mississippi Department whose commands are east of the Mississippi River, unless on duty under orders from de. partment or district headquarters, will join their respective commands forthwith. II. District commanders will, in their respecfive districts, relieve all officers belonging to commands east of the Mississippi whose services can possibly be dispensed with, and order them to join their proper com- mands without delay, reporting their names to these headquarters, and also the names of those retained, together with the nature of the serv- ices in which they are engaged. By command of Lient. Gen. E. Kirby Smith: S. S. ANDERSON, Assistant Adjutant- General.
GENERAL ORDERS, UD QRS. TRANS-MISSISS1PPI DEPARTMENT, No. 11. Shreveport, La., May 11, 1863. I. Capt. C. S. West, assistant adjutant-general, is assigned to duty as assistant inspector-general upon the staff of the lieutenant-general commanding. II. Until further orders, rations will be issued in accordance with the table published by the chief of subsistence of this department. III. All soldiers belonging to commands east of the Mississippi River who are now in this department, absent without authority, or whose leaves of absence or furloughs have expired, will immediately report in person at one of the following depots, viz: In the District of Arkan- sas, at Camden, Ark.; in the District of West Louisiana and Texas, at Shreveport, La. By command of Lient. Gen. E. Kirby Smith: