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SIR, I have received the letter of Colo. Chambers addressed to Colo. Butler which by your order has been transmitted to this department for instruction in relation to the subject to which it refers.
By a letter of the 28th ult. from this Department you were apprised of the arrangements which had been formed through the Qr. Master to transport the detachment intended to occupy the Mississippi with its supplies by Steam Boat, and that the arrangements would be completed early in April. In order to meet Indian hostilities the boat will be prepared with strong bulwarks and will want a few light pieces on her deck. If the Mississippi will admit of such navigation, all resistance from the Indians, even if aided and instigated by British traders will be easily overcome. In the meantime it appears to me that it would be imprudent for the detachment at present to risk any thing. Its further advance at present if not already arrested by the ice, would be of no importance, as it would not in the least expedite the ultimate object of the expedition.
I regret that the Indians have in this early stage of the movements evinced a hostile disposition, and trust that every degree of moderation and firmness will be exercised by Capt. Martin, to prevent the hostility from extending itself or becoming settled. The command requires great prudence and skill. Jealousy on the part of the Indians ought to be expected and soothed; and the instigation of the British traders from interest and enmity ought to be counteracted by seizing on every occasion to gain the confidence of the Indians, but as I have already in my letter of the 28th expressed my opinion on these facts, I will not extend these observations. Every thing will depend on the character of the 'commander of the expedition
- John C. Calhoun
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899, Calhoun Correspondence.